UNWTO aims at making tourism smarter, more competitive and more responsible

- By Raquib Siddiqi 16 May, 2018 | 676 Views | - +
Dhaka : The United Nations World Tourism Organi-sation (UNWTO), the custodian of global tourism, is going to adopt new strategic plan towards 2030 for making tourism smarter, more competitive and more responsible.

As the world set a new universal agenda for sustainable development, UNWTO and its members are trying to shape the tourism agenda for the next 10 years. The 108th session of the UNWTO Executive Council, scheduled on May 23-25, 2018, in San Sebastian, Spain, is likely to adopt the new agenda towards 2030.

In a collaborative effort between the UNWTO secretariat and its members, the new UNWTO Strategic Plan Towards 2030, going to be fully integrate the specificities of the sector, a rapidly changing business model, new world emerging challenges and the United Nations Reform.

The UNWTO insist that it should carefully set an agenda to mitigate global challenges and provide a roadmap for the secretariat and all stakeholders on how working together can make tourism smarter, more competitive and more responsible, by placing people, the planet and prosperity at its core.

The management proposes to initiate the process leading to the presentation of the UNWTO Strategic Plan towards 2030 at the 23rd session of the UNWTO General Assembly in 2019.

The vital contributor

As one of the fastest growing economic sectors in the world, tourism is increasingly recognised as a vital contributor to job and wealth creation, environmental protection, cultural preservation and poverty alleviation.

UNWTO believe that a well-designed and managed tourism sector can help preserve the natural and cultural heritage assets upon which it depends, empower host communities, generate trade opportunities, and foster peace and intercultural understanding.

To meet challenges

Therefore, the harnessing of tourism's positive contribution to sustainable development and the mitigation of the sector's potential adverse effects calls for strong partnerships and decisive action by all tourism stakeholders in line with the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

The Sustainable Develop-ment Goals is providing new opportunities for tourism. Tourism's role in achieving the 17 Sustainable Develop-ment Goals (SDGs) can be significantly strengthened when sustainable development becomes a shared responsibility and moves to the core of policies and business decision-making within the tourism sector.

The World Tourism Organisa-tion (UNWTO) and the United Nations Development Prog-ramme (UNDP) are committed to inspire leadership and facilitate collaboration among all stakeholders to advance the contribution of tourism to the SDGs and the targets of the 2030 agenda.

The SDGs

The Tourism and the Sustainable Development Goals - Journey to 2030 report by UNWTO committee, aims to build knowledge, empower and inspire tourism stakeholders to take necessary action to accelerate the shift towards a more sustainable tourism sector by aligning policies, business operations and investments with the SDGs.

The report highlights the links between tourism and the SDGs and provides recommendations on how to steer the road towards 2030. It is based on an analysis of 64 countries' Voluntary National Reviews (VNRs) on the SDGs_ submitted to the United Nations High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development in 2016 and 2017_ Mainstrea-ming, Acceleration and Policy Support (MAPS) country roadmaps and Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) activities of 60 global tourism companies.

The findings

The main findings of the report are as follows: (1) The sustained growth of tourism over the last decades brings immense opportunities for socioeconomic welfare, poverty alleviation and the overall advancement of the 17 Goals of the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda;

(2) Tourism explicitly features as a target in three of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs): Goals 8, 12 and 14 on inclusive and sustainable economic growth, jobs, sustainable consumption and production (SCP), and the sustainable use of oceans and marine resources, respectively. Yet, given the sheer size, crosscutting nature and links with other sectors along its vast value chain, tourism has the potential to contribute_ directly and indirectly_ to all 17 SDGs;

(3) This framework is reflected in the results of the UNWTO Members Survey for the 2018-2019 Programme of Work, which fully converge with the scope of the 2030 Agenda in placing tourism at the forefront of development.

(4) As we move towards a future guided by the universal 17 SDGs, a strong focus will be placed on building partnerships with the public and private sector, fostering jobs and opportunities for all, advancing technology and innovation and addressing sustainability and the fight against climate change.

Management vision

In 2017, international tourist arrivals grew by 7 per cent reaching 1,322 million. 2017 was the eighth consecutive year of sustained growth following the 2009 global economic and financial crisis. No comparable sequence of uninterrupted solid growth has been recorded since the 1960s.

Tourism is an important driver of economic growth and development, with significant impact on job creation, investment, development of infrastructure, and the promotion of social inclusion.

The value, growth and resilience of tourism to external shocks over the past decades testify to the capacity of the sector to play a decisive role in the achievement of the 2030 Agenda and the SDGs.

Lead in knowledge creation and policy

UNWTO's main role is to guide the development of appropriate tourism polices that make it possible to maximise the socioeconomic value of the sector and minimise its possible negative effects. Doing so requires robust and comprehensive knowledge about tourism flows and trends, and the impact of the sector on the economy, the society and the environment.

To that end, it is proposed: (a) To develop international standards, policy recommendations and guidelines; (b) To carry out market research on programmatic priority areas; (c) To advance national capacity to compile tourism data and its comparability; and (d) To exchange good practices on tourism policies.

Better value for members

Addressing the needs of the members and expanding membership are key features of the management vision. This entails strengthening the dialogue with members as well as prospective members while reinforcing the capacity of the organisation to deliver.

UNWTO consider that there is need to create a new and strategic approach to lead in knowledge creation and capacity building, supported by efficient resource mobilisation.

UNWTO action will thus be focused on: (a) Responding to Members' needs and offering fit-for-purpose services; (b) Strengthening technical expertise to deliver more and better services to the members and support the mainstreaming of tourism in their national agendas; (c) Encouraging the sharing of good practices in tourism policies; and (d) Attracting new member states.

Strengthen UNWTO's capacity

The growing recognition of tourism's important contribution to sustainable development- including its mention in the SDGs_ offers new opportunities for increased Official Development Assistance (ODA) to the sector. The OECD Development Assis-tance Committee (DAC) recently included UNWTO in the DAC list, recognising its development function. Member States can now report their voluntary contributions and fees to UNWTO as ODA.

In order to make real strides in the delivery of development cooperation, it is also essential that tourism policymakers, together with the Secretariat, fully engage with the development mechanisms at the country level, such as the participation in the United Nations Develop-ment Assistance Framework (UNDAF) System at the country level, as well as at the global level.

Programmatic priorities

In line with the programme of work for 2018-2019 approved by the UNWTO General Assembly at its 22nd session and the vision, the management proposes to focus on the following priorities in the period 2018-2019.

Management and structure

The Secretary_ General has decided to make some adjustments to the current structure in order to effectively support the priorities and optimize the efficiency of the UNWTO.

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