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UNESCO to promote a new tourism culture

on 02 March 2021

Tourism is the world’s largest industry and studies predict its increasing growth. The World Tourism Organization (WTO) estimates that the number of international tourist arrivals has grown from 25 million in 1950 to 898 million in 2006,

corresponding to an average annual growth rate of 6.5%. Looking ahead, international tourist arrivals are forecast to reach 1.6 billion by 2020. Receipts from international tourism (excluding international fare receipts) reached US$733 billion in 2006. World-wide, the average receipt per arrival is around US$680. In addition, domestic tourism is of major importance in many countries.

Tourism is thus an important factor in the economy of many countries and in the management of many cultural sites and natural areas. Being a people-oriented industry, tourism also provides many jobs which have helped revitalize local economies. Yet by its very nature tourism is ambivalent, and this ambivalence may be particularly striking in those small island states where tourism represents an important part of annual revenue. Here, growth in tourism may be accompanied by many problems and difficulties, such as conflicting demands on limited resources (e.g. fresh water, beach access), issues related to energy supply and waste disposal, and so on.

Within UNESCO, several initiatives seek to promote a new tourism culture, based on common sense and the responsible use of the environmental resources and cultural assets of each destination.

activities include intellectual contributions, the promotion of ethical principles and the concrete testing of approaches to sustainable tourism at the field level. The role includes both normative and standard-setting functions. The work also entails cooperation and partnerships with a wide range of other bodies. Some examples follow.

The UNESCO World Heritage and Sustainable Tourism Programme represents a new approach based on dialogue and stakeholder cooperation where planning for tourism and heritage management is integrated at a destination level, the natural and cultural assets are valued and protected, and appropriate tourism developed. The goal is to Facilitate the management and development of sustainable tourism at World Heritage properties through fostering increased awareness, capacity and balanced participation of all stakeholders in order to protect the properties and their Outstanding Universal Value.

UNESCO World Heritage and Sustainable Tourism Programme

World Heritage Site is a landmark or area with legal protection by the UNESCO. The sites are designated by UNESCO for having cultural, historical, scientific or other form of significance. As of June 2020, a total of 1,121 World Heritage Sites exist across 167 countries.

The UNESCO World Heritage and Sustainable Tourism Programme represents a new approach based on dialogue and stakeholder cooperation where planning for tourism and heritage management is integrated at a destination level, the natural and cultural assets are valued and protected, and appropriate tourism developed. The goal is to Facilitate the management and development of sustainable tourism at World Heritage properties through fostering increased awareness, capacity and balanced participation of all stakeholders in order to protect the properties and their Outstanding Universal Value.

Last Updated: 03 March 2021