The 2020 edition of the World Tourism Day will celebrate the unique role that tourism plays in providing opportunities outside of big cities and preserving cultural and natural heritage all around the world.
Celebrated annually on September 27, World Tourism Day is a unique opportunity to raise awareness on tourism’s actual and potential contribution to sustainable development.
Under the theme, “Tourism and rural development”, this year’s international day of observation comes at a critical moment, as countries around the world look to tourism to drive recovery, including in rural communities where the sector is a leading employer and economic pillar.
“All around the world, tourism empowers rural communities, providing jobs and opportunity, most notably for women and youth. Tourism also enables rural communities to hold onto their unique cultural heritage and traditions, and the sector is vital for safeguarding habitat and endangered species,” World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashvili said.
The 2020 edition also comes as governments look to the sector to drive recovery from the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic and with the enhanced recognition of tourism at the highest United Nations level.
This was most notably illustrated with the recent release of a landmark Policy Brief on tourism from UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres in which he explained that “for rural communities, indigenous peoples and many other historically marginalized populations, tourism has been a vehicle for integration, empowerment and generating income.”
For the first time in the 40-year history of World Tourism Day, the official celebration will not be hosted by a single member state of the United Nations. Instead, nations from the Mercosur bloc (Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay, with Chile joining with observer status) will serve as joint hosts.
This co-hosting agreement exemplifies the spirit of international solidarity that runs through tourism and which UNWTO has recognized as essential for recovery.