2017 – International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development

Article, 18.01.2017

The United Nations General Assembly has declared 2017 the “International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development”. The aim is to make decision-makers and the general public aware of the contribution that sustainable tourism can make to development. The World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) coordinates a wide range of global initiatives. For its part, the SDC supports several promising projects in Eastern Europe.

International Year of Sustainable Tourism logo: a dandelion flower, its seeds dispersing in the wind.
Tourism has become a powerful and transformative force. ©UN

Back in 2015, the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon declared: “With more than one billion international tourists now travelling the world each year, tourism has become a powerful and transformative force that is making a genuine difference in the lives of millions of people.” The occasion was World Tourism Day, an event held on 27 September every year.

In response to the Secretary-General’s message, the United Nations General Assembly declared 2017 the “International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development”. Global leaders have come to recognise that well-designed and well-managed tourism can contribute to sustainable economic, social and environmental development. In the context of the universal 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the UN aims to support a change in policies, business practices and consumer behaviour towards a tourism sector that is more sustainable and capable of making a significant contribution to development.

This international year is a unique opportunity to draw attention to a sector which has tremendous potential to push forward sustainable development. Tourism is one of the most dynamic sectors in the world in terms of job creation. It provides livelihood opportunities for local communities, thus helping to alleviate poverty and integrate the most deprived in the development process. Raising awareness and mobilising the tourist community can lead to better biodiversity protection by advocating a more rational use of natural resources. Tourism also has the potential to strengthen peace by fostering better understanding among peoples everywhere, by leading to a greater awareness of the rich heritage of various civilisations, and in bringing about a better appreciation of the inherent values of different cultures.

The SDC actively promotes a tourism sector that is sustainable and capable of driving development. One beneficiary of its support is the Working Group on Tourism and Development (AKTE), a Swiss research centre that champions the right of host communities to play an active part in the development of tourism while safeguarding their natural and cultural heritage. It heightens awareness among travellers and tourism policymakers of the impact that tourism can have, and encourages them to adopt intelligent tourism practices that also respect the environment and are fair to hosts. SDC support for sustainable tourism is reflected primarily through its cooperation work with Eastern Europe:

Creating employment in tourism and the traditional products sector

Harvesting raspberries in Serbia © SDC

The SDC supports a project in Serbia that aims to increase income and job opportunities, particularly for young people and women, by developing the tourism potential of the country and its traditional products sector.

Creating employment in tourism and the traditional products sector

 

More work opportunities for young people in Kosovo

A man looks at the vegetable.
Farmers are trained how to use and store seed correctly. © Swisscontact

One reason why Kosovo suffers from high unemployment is the lack of international competitiveness in the private sector. This project supports companies in the food and tourism industries and helps to create new jobs.

More work opportunities for young people in Kosovo

Know-how from the Alps for the Carpathians

© FDFA

This SDC project supports local initiatives for developing rural tourism, marketing traditional products and engaging local civil society in regions around the foothills of the Carpathian mountains.

Know-how from the Alps for the Carpathians

Stimulating tourism in the Hungarian region of Zemplén

Six Swiss musicians in traditional attire give an alphorn concert in the new climbing gym in the town of Sátoraljaújhely.
© FDFA

In the hilly wine-growing region of Zemplén in north-eastern Hungary, authorities and NGOs on the ground have, in cooperation with the SDC, implemented a major programme aimed at developing tourism and stimulating the local economy.  

Stimulating tourism in the Hungarian region of Zemplén

World Tourism Organisation

The World Tourism Organisation is the United Nations agency responsible for the promotion of responsible, sustainable and universally accessible tourism. It promotes tourism as a driver of economic growth, inclusive development and environmental sustainability, and offers leadership and support to the sector in advancing knowledge and tourism policies worldwide. It encourages the implementation of the Global Code of Ethics for Tourism, to maximise tourism’s socioeconomic contribution while minimising its possible negative impacts.

The UNWTO was charged with coordinating the implementation of the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development. To accomplish this mission, it will work closely with governments, the relevant organisations of the United Nations system, international and regional organisations, and other stakeholders.