Tourism's Social Responsibility

Tourism can and should support positive social change

By: F. Frangialli

In our apparently wealthy world, poverty still affects four billion people throughout the the world, of which two billion are living with less than $1 a day. ... By selecting poverty alleviation, job creation and social harmony as the World Tourism Day theme for 2003, our 14th General Assembly firmly expressed its will to fully support one of the key issues stated in the UN Millennium Development Goals and, at the same time, recalled the fundamental role of tourism as a positive instrument towards the reduction of poverty, the creation of job opportunities as well as contributing to social harmony.

There is an evident ethical need for tourism to support such goals. A major sector of the services economy, tourism is increasingly recognized as contributing to social and economic development as well as a beneficial activity for host countries and local communities to combat unemployment by creating direct and indirect jobs. Tourism also can contribute significantly to rural development, especially in depressed rural areas threatened by the decline of traditional agricultural activities. And it is precisely in rural areas of developing countries where most poor people live. ...

In a year shaken by political turmoil, environmental and natural disasters, international conflicts and new diseases that have affected tourist movements, we are more confident than ever that tourism has the capacity to contribute to the alleviation of some of the main factors which are at the root of such problems.

Excerpts from a statement by Francesco Frangialli, secretary-general of the World Tourism Organization, about World Tourism Day Sept. 27.