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What:The 2014 World Tourism Day (WTD) was held on Sept. 27 in Guadalajara, Mexico. Organized by World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) and the government of Mexico, it celebrated the theme “Tourism and Community Development.”
Why It Matters:At this year’s event, international tourism ministers and private sector representatives underlined how tourism stakeholders — including tourists and travel professionals — and native communities can work hand in hand toward sustainable development. By encouraging vacations with a community slant or suggesting stops in more remote or rural areas, for example, travel agents can empower locals within a destination and contribute to WTD’s goals of promoting awareness of tourism’s economic, social, cultural and political value. Positive effects may include a slowed-down migration to cities, in addition to generating revenue and cultivating social unity.
Fast Facts:- Enrique Pena Nieto, the president of Mexico, opened the official celebrations of WTD. Tourism represents more than 8 percent of Mexico’s gross domestic product (GDP) and employs 7 percent of the national workforce. Nieto also said that the sector is rapidly growing, attracting investment and driving local and regional development — particularly for women and youth.
- One WTD activity was a Think Tank, moderated by Gabriela Frias of CNN International, a media partner of UNWTO. The Think Tank encompassed debates about improved tourism policies that promote community involvement, as well as the role of the private sector.
- Think Tank participants included Claudia Ruiz Massieu Salinas, secretary of tourism in Mexico; Eglantina Gjermeni, minister of urban development and tourism in Albania; Otmar E. Oduber, minister of tourism, transportation and labor in Aruba; Sandra Howard, vice minister of tourism in Colombia; Emilio Silvestri, director of the Honduras Institute of Tourism in Honduras; Dato Seri Mohamed Nazri Abdul Aziz, minister of tourism and culture in Malaysia; Mayra Salinas, minister of tourism and executive president of the Nicaraguan Institute of Tourism; Marcela Bacigalupo, executive secretary of the National Secretariat of Tourism in Paraguay; Magali Silva Velarde-Alvarez, minister of foreign trade and tourism in Peru; and Sergio Arzeni, director of the OECD Centre for Entrepreneurship, Small and Medium-sized Enterprises and Local Development.
- WTD seeks to address global challenges outlined in the United Nationals Millennium Development Goals, which range from reducing poverty rates to worldwide primary education.
What They Are Saying:“There can be no real tourism development if it damages the values and culture of host communities or if the socio-economic benefits generated by tourism do not trickle down to the community level,” said Taleb Rifai, secretary-general of UNWTO. “I would like to invite all tourism stakeholders and host communities to come together and celebrate this day as a symbol of our common efforts in making tourism a true pillar of community development and community development the basis of a more sustainable future.”