Reflections on World Tourism Day 2021 “Tourism for inclusive growth”
On 27 September, ISTO, its members and partners around the world and the tourism sector, in general, celebrated World Tourism Day, which in this edition focused on the importance of tourism as an actor for inclusive growth, to raise awareness of the social, cultural, political and economic value of tourism and the part the sector can play in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals of the UN 2030 Agenda.
The International Social Tourism Organisation would like to highlight during this day the need for tourism to be beneficial for all. "Leave no one behind", which has been repeated so often in recent days, is a very broad concept meaning that all actors should profit from this activity - including tourism workers, tourists and residents of the destinations where these tourism activities take place.
But what does this mean for workers in the tourism sector? This is about creating fair, decent and humane working conditions for all. Creating jobs in the sector is not enough; we must establish decent work opportunities beyond respecting the rules and laws in force in each country, ensuring gender equality and diversity, eliminating all forms of discrimination and providing equal opportunities for recruitment and promotion for all within the enterprises, especially the most disadvantaged workers in the sector, young people, women and immigrants, as well as the creation of and access to jobs for people with disabilities. Encouraging, supporting and developing the professionalisation of workers in the tourism sector as part of continuous training should lead companies' actions. Employment is an important part of life and the experience gained from it should also lead to the personal fulfillment of workers!
However, tourists must also benefit from this inclusive growth, and for that to happen, we must start with the right to rest and leisure, and therefore access to tourism and holidays we all deserve. Children and young people, the elderly, families with low incomes and people with disabilities are part of the population that have difficulty accessing tourism. Therefore, it is our responsibility to work to promote everyone's inclusion in tourism and to break down the different barriers they face, thus creating greater social cohesion, which is so important for our societies.
Finally, we must not forget the people receiving these tourists, which means the residents living in the host communities. More must be done than just including them in tourist activities that take place in their destinations; we must ensure that their voice is heard and that their will is respected when decisions are made. Tourism can become the tool that brings well-being, prosperity and improves residents' quality of life, providing that their voice is heard and respected, thereby creating that integration that promotes social and economic inclusion of so many disadvantaged populations.
We support the defence and protection of biodiversity and the planet that so many host communities demand, and we are responsible both as managers and as tourists for tourism development that is respectful of the environment. Without sustainability there will be no tourism, which is why it is no longer possible to go back to outdated ways of working in tourism, in other words, to relaunch tourism without rethinking it, and, above all, please, we should not use "inclusion" as a marketing strategy to position ourselves when we have not changed the way we think or act and are still using strategies to attract more tourists instead of better ones, more responsible to our destinations.
We support, promote and defend those innovative and inclusive tourism practices which take into account the three dimensions of sustainability: social, environmental and economic!
May this World Tourism Day reaffirm our engagement to "leave no one behind", remind us that behind every tourism figure stands a person, while we continue to work for sustainable and inclusive societies which benefit all and allow us to achieve this more prosperous world we long for and above all this social transformation through tourism, which many of us are convinced and work for.