Sustainable tourism gets boost with launch of global partnership
The push for sustainable tourism was given a boost this week with the establishment of the Global Partnership for Sustainable Tourism that unites all stakeholders in the industry in influencing policies, developing projects and providing a global communication platform.
The new Partnership was established at the first annual General Meeting in Costa Rica, hosted by the Costa Rican Ministry of Tourism and supported by the French and Norwegian Governments, together with the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) and the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO).
During the meeting, France was elected President of the Partnership Steering Committee and Costa Rica as Vice-Chair. The Secretariat to this innovative Global Partnership will be housed with UNEP's Division of Technology, Industry and Economics (DTIE) in Paris, France and the emphasis will be to shift tourism onto a sustainable pathway worldwide.
"The Partnership will be an up-to-date, dynamic forum where countries that are interested in tourism which is truly sustainable will be able to learn from the successful efforts of the other members and obtain technical assistance, and which will promote constant dialogue, the exchange of experiences, and seek solutions to the problems that are common to the tourism sector," said Gina Guillen Grillo,
Senior Advisor to the Minister of Tourism of Costa Rica.
Tourism is one of the world's largest industries and for developing countries it can be a source of much needed income. However, if not managed well, tourism can also threaten a country's natural resources as a result of higher demands on water and energy consumption and waste generation and lead to environmental degradation and negatively impact local populations.
"The tourism sector has been increasingly recognized as a key engine for economic growth, especially in developing and least developed countries. It is not only responsible for a significant share of world GDP (5%) and employment (6-7%), but is also an important source of foreign investment reaching as much as 30% of the world service's exports. The number of international tourist arrivals is expected to reach 1.6 billion by 2020," said Luigi Cabrini, Director for Sustainable Development of Tourism in the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO).