Official message by UNWTO Secretary-General Taleb Rifai for World Tourism Day, September 27, 2016.
“Tourism for all!”
Tourism has experienced a revolution in the past 50 years. In 1950 there were 25 million international tourists; today there are around 1.2 billion people travelling the world. Travelling has become a huge part of many lives.
When travelling, we come across new people, new sights, and new ideas. Often our perception of the world changes as we see more of it. However, we must not forget that for many, travelling can be quite a difficult process.
15% of the world’s population is estimated to live with some form of disability. That is 1 billion people around the world who may be unable to enjoy the privilege of knowing other cultures, experience nature at its fullest and experience the thrill of embarking on a journey to explore new sights.
Accessibility for all should be at the center of tourism policies and business strategies not only as a human right, but also as a great market opportunity.
With the world’s population ageing, all of us will benefit sooner or later from universal accessibility in tourism.
As we celebrate World Tourism Day, let us recall that all of the world’s citizens have the right to experience the incredible diversity this planet has to offer.
We thus urge all countries and destinations, as well as the industry, to promote accessibility for all in the physical environment, in transport systems, in public facilities and services and in information and communications channels.
I wish you a very happy World Tourism Day and a future full of enriching and compelling travel experiences to be enjoyed by all.
Thank you very much!
World Tourism Organization (UNWTO)
Theme for 2016: “Tourism for All – promoting universal accessibility”
“Accessible Tourism for all is about the creation of environments that can cater for the needs of all of us, whether we are traveling or staying at home. May that be due to a disability, even temporary, families with small children, or the ageing population, at some point in our lives, sooner or later, we all benefit of universal accessibility in tourism.
Which is why, we want to call upon the right for all of the world’s citizens to experience the incredible diversity of our planet and the beauty of the world we live in. On this year’s World Tourism Day help us spread the word of both the importance and immense benefits universal accessibility has and can bring to society at large.” – UNWTO
Ever since its inception, World Tourism Day is celebrated on September 27 to foster awareness among the international community of the importance of tourism and its social, cultural, political and economic value. As the official day set aside in the United Nations Calendar the celebration seeks to highlight tourisms potential to contribute to reaching the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), addressing some of the most pressing challenges society is faced with today.
The official World Tourism Day 2016 celebrations will be held in Bangkok, Thailand.