Balanced growth will secure future

As we march into the second month of the year, it is not too late yet to get a debrief on the direction that our industry is taking in 2017. Many of you will be aware that the United Nations (UN) has declared 2017 as the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development. If we look back, there have been milestones along the way, for example, the world rallied behind the International Tourist Year in 1967 that was themed around tourism as a passport to peace. In the past decade, we pinned our growth compass around the International Year of Ecotourism that was flagged off in 2002.

In its roadmap for the year’s activities, the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) reiterated the importance of sustainability in tourism development, 'As one of the largest and fastest-growing socio-economic sectors of our times, tourism can stimulate economic growth, create decent jobs and business opportunities, helping millions of people escape poverty and improve their livelihoods.'

Throughout the year, we will see a spate of strategic activations, campaigns and events to raise awareness on the contribution of sustainable tourism to development. Expect congregations of decision-makers and the public supporting key pillars of the theme, stakeholders to unite behind tourism as a catalyst for positive change. The campaign is smartly captured with the slogan Travel. Enjoy. Respect, and rendered in a beautiful and inspiring video that may be viewed on YouTube page of UNWTO. Partners are able to join the campaign around the world and gain visibility, and be recognised as an important contributor of sustainable tourism as a tool for development.

We all understand the potential of tapping growth prospects through sustainable development – it leads to preservation of culture. Dubai’s investment in developing the heritage district around the creek is a good example. Sustainable tourism practices secures our future, opens more doors and raises the potential for tourism dollars, creating more jobs. In his message to our industry, UNWTO secretary-general Taleb Rifai said: 'This is a unique opportunity to build a more responsible and committed tourism sector that can capitalise its immense potential in terms of economic prosperity, social inclusion, peace and understanding, cultural and environmental preservation.'

Sustainable development in tourism and growth of tourism feed on each other, the ongoing work of Linking Tourism and Conservation and South Pole Group in Zimbabwe under the project Kariba REDD++ is a great case study in that. An inspirational story of collaboration in preserving nature, creating jobs, securing communities.

The Global Code of Ethics for Tourism is a handy guide that was released earlier this year by UNWTO. The document outlines the action points for taking the mandate forward. Some clear mandates to professionals are around the concept of taking greater responsibility of tourism services provided with a clear system of compensation in the case of failure to deliver.

Our colleagues from the travel industry in Qatar will have the honour of hosting World Tourism Day later this year, and we are looking forward to the celebration of the theme, 'Sustainable Tourism – a tool for development around the world'. Keep yourselves on top of the stories and events around the year’s underlying theme for growth. A complete list of tourism stories, events and partnership activities around the theme of International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development is presented on the website

TTN wishes you and your organisation the best in coming up with your own balanced growth targets and ideas. Do share with us what you plan to do or have been doing around the year’s sustainability theme.

By Andy Pearson