“Investing in People, Planet and Prosperity”

UNWTO has identified investments as one of the key priorities for tourism’s recovery and future growth and development. For WORLD TOURISM DAY 2023, UNWTO highlights the need for more and better-targeted investments for people, for the planet, and for prosperity. Now is the time for new and innovative solutions, not just traditional investments that promote and underpin economic growth and productivity.

World Tourism Day 2023 will be a call to action for the international community, governments, multilateral financial institutions, development partners, and private sector investors to unite around a new tourism investment strategy to enable tourism to deliver on its massive potential to provide opportunities for people, to build resilient, to accelerate climate action and greater sustainability for the planet and deliver inclusive prosperity around the pillars of innovation and entrepreneurship.

The overall disruption in the tourism sector brought about by COVID-19 provides an opportunity to redefine and recalibrate the direction and narratives of tourism investments with the objective of better supporting the successful implementation of the Agenda 2030 and the Sustainable Development Goals.

The international observance day for tourism will highlight the vital need to deliver investment for projects that work for People (by investing in education and skills), Planet (by investing in sustainable infrastructure and accelerating green transformation), and Prosperity (by investing in innovation, technology, and entrepreneurship).

World Tourism Day has been held on 27 September each year since 1980. The date marks the anniversary of the adoption of the Statutes of the Organization in 1970, paving the way for the establishment of UNWTO five years later.

The timing of World Tourism Day is particularly appropriate in that it comes at the end of the high season in the northern hemisphere and the beginning of the season in the southern hemisphere.

Investing in People:

Prioritizing Education and Upscaling Skills

“Education is a fundamental human right. It’s the bedrock of societies, economies, and every person’s potential. But without adequate investment, this potential will wither on the vine” – Secretary-General of the UN, on the occasion of the International Day of Education (2023).

The crisis has revealed the need to rethink the structure of tourism economies to improve competitiveness and build resilience and accelerate the implementation of SDG 4 (quality education). To that end, the sector should invest in education and skills development, including for women, in all areas to promote added value jobs and resilience. To build a more sustainable tourism the right talent is inevitable.

Tourism is one of the world’s leading employers. In 2019, the sector employed one in 10 people worldwide and has proven to be a tool for economic diversification and a major employment engine with a multiplier effect on other sectors that contribute to rural development. Furthermore, tourism in rural areas can particularly benefit traditionally disadvantaged groups such as women who make up 54% of the workforce in the tourism sector compared to 39% for the whole economy – youth and Indigenous people. Tourism is also an easy-access sector for micro and small enterprises and for the self-employed, who make up a significant part of the tourism sector and community-level entrepreneurship in general.

However, in emerging destinations, 50% of young people are unable to work in tourism due to a lack of opportunity, resources, or access to academic training. Furthermore, current education and training opportunities are unbalanced, with a heavy emphasis on hotel management. Looking ahead, the global tourism workforce will require millions of hospitality graduates annually between now and 2030 and a further 800,000 jobs a year will require specific vocational training.

These are the reasons to invest in people as they are the foundation of tourism and this is why UNWTO is dedicated to empowering them and placing investments into the heart of our future actions.

Investing in Planet:

According to the Global Risk Report 2022 by the World Economic Forum, a climate emergency is one of the most urgent and pressing risks and challenges of the next 10 years and to ensure that the tourism sector delivers its responsibilities as a solution to the climate emergency is the need.

The green transformation of the tourism sector is also needed, for the planet, for boosting competitiveness and increasing resilience, and green investments and innovation in the tourism sector must play a leading role to support this transformation and the implementation of the green goals of the Agenda 2030 and the SDGs.

The pandemic opened up various opportunities, especially related to green buildings and retrofitting. The need to reduce emissions provides an investment opportunity of $24.7 trillion in the green buildings sector of emerging market cities by 2030, in which hotels, resorts, and restaurants account for $1.5 trillion5. In addition, tourism faces a lot more investment opportunities related to new solutions and technologies to decarbonize the sector as well as to ensure climate-resilient infrastructure through adaptation solutions. , it is time to rethink the existing frameworks and approaches vis a vis tourism investment for accelerating the sector’s green transition.

The need to reduce emissions provides an investment opportunity of $24.7 trillion in the green buildings sector of emerging market cities by 2030, in which hotels, resorts, and restaurants account for $1.5 trillion5.  To develop global and regional partnerships and green investment frameworks and innovative financial initiatives for the tourism sector to support the global commitment to halve emissions by 2030 and reach Net Zero as soon as possible before 2050.

Investing in Prosperity:

Digitalization and innovation programs are a strategic priority to support particularly young people and women, which are critical to upskill the tourism sector’s workforce. Moreover, the global need to increase the level of investments in programs that support and incentivize entrepreneurship and generate opportunities for innovations is highly need it in the tourism sector.

Furthermore, women’s empowerment is a fundamental component of just, equitable societies. Tourism has been proven to provide pathways to empowerment, and the opportunity for tourism to make a difference in this area should be maximized. According to UNWTO’s Global Report on Women in Tourism Second Edition, 54% of people employed in tourism are women while 39% of people employed in the broader economy are women. Therefore, we must put more emphasis on support for female entrepreneurs. World leaders need to act now and act decisively to invest in policies that promote more and better jobs for women and equal pay at work. Female entrepreneurship is on the rise globally and has proven its ability to drive economic growth and poverty reduction. However, with less than ten years left to meet the targets set out by the 2030 Agenda, the full potential of women-led businesses has yet to be unleashed. Investment in women entrepreneurs is an investment in change because they bring so much to the table: innovation, competitiveness, and new values.

Therefore, investments in innovation and digitalization and their cross-sectorial impact have a multiplier potential to not only strengthen strategic large global and regional projects, but also stimulate the tourism recovery and safeguard jobs by supporting the survival of MSMEs, mitigating the economic systemic impact, sustaining employment, and creating the conditions needed for future growth, post-pandemic.

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