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World Tourism Day: History, Significance, and Theme of World Tourism Day 2021

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World Tourism Day is observed on 27th September every year. The day is marked to highlight the significance of tourism in promoting and preserving the natural and cultural heritage around the world. Besides raising awareness on the importance of tourism, World Tourism Day also acknowledges the contributions the sector makes towards attaining the Sustainable Development Goals. Let’s briefly look at the history and significance of the day and explore the theme of World Tourism Day 2021.

History of World Tourism Day:

The World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) is an United Nations’ agency that works for the promotion of responsible, sustainable and universally accessible tourism.

27th September marks the adoption of the Statutes of the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) in 1970. Commemorating this watershed moment in global tourism, the UNWTO has begun observing the day as World Tourism Day since 1980.

Significance of the day:

The main purpose of World Tourism Day is to raise awareness about tourism’s impact on social, political, cultural, and economic values of a country.

Since almost 90% of world heritage sites were closed and millions dependent on tourism lost their jobs during the pandemic, it is essential to highlight the importance of the tourism sector and promote tourism in a way that fosters inclusive growth, which itself is the theme of World Tourism Day 2021.

“By celebrating this day, we state our commitment that, as tourism grows, the benefits that come will be felt at every level of our broad and diverse sector, from the biggest airline to the smallest family business,” said UNWTO’s secretary general, Zurab Pololikashvili, in his official message.

“On World Tourism Day, we recognise the power and potential of tourism to advance prosperity and drive inclusive sustainable development,” he added.

World Tourism Day 2021 Theme: Tourism for Inclusive Growth

Every year, UNWTO comes up with a theme for celebration of World Tourism Day and this year’s theme is centered around inclusive growth. Now that the world is taking baby steps towards revival of the hard-hit tourism sector by reopening to tourists, it is important that the fruits of tourism be available to all. UNWTO has urged businesses, tourists, UN agencies, member states and non-members to “celebrate tourism’s unique ability to ensure that nobody is left behind as the world begins to open up again and look to the future”.  UNWTO said that this is an ‘opportunity to look beyond tourism statistics and acknowledge that, behind every number, there is a person’.

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