World Tourism Day is held each year on September 27. Its aim is to foster awareness among the international community on the importance of tourism and its social, cultural, political and economic value.
The event seeks to address global challenges outlined in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and to highlight the contribution the tourism industry can make in reaching the Sustainable Development Goals.
The World Tourism Organization, the United Nations agency responsible for the promotion of responsible, sustainable and universally accessible tourism, invites all interested parties to take part on September 27 each year in the special celebrations taking place in their respective country or holiday destination.
Establishment of World Tourism Day
It was at its third session (Torremolinos, Spain, September 1979), that the UNWTO General Assembly decided to institute World Tourism Day, commencing in the year 1980. This date was chosen to coincide with an important milestone in world tourism: the anniversary of the adoption of the UNWTO Statutes on 27 September 1970.
The timing of World Tourism Day is particularly appropriate in that it comes at the end of the high season in the northern hemisphere and the beginning of the season in the southern hemisphere.
Tourism: A Key Sector in the World
Over the past six decades, tourism has experienced continued expansion and diversification, and it has become one of the fastest growing and most important economic sectors in the world, benefiting destinations and communities worldwide.
International tourist arrivals worldwide have grown from 25 million in 1950 to nearly 1.3 billion today. Similarly, international tourism revenues earned by destinations around the world have grown from 2 billion US dollars in 1950 to 1260 trillion in 2015. The sector represents an estimated 10% of the world's GDP and 1 in 10 jobs globally.
The UN World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) expects that tourism will continue to grow at an average of 3% annually until 2030. This growth reflects the progressive expansion of access to tourism thanks to the decline in the price of transport, especially air transport, and growing middle classes worldwide.
The recognition of the right to holidays in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and the improved adoption of labor rights in many countries, have also supported the coming of the age of tourism.
These factors also serve as a backdrop for the resilience shown by tourism in recent years. The sector has experienced almost uninterrupted growth despite challenges such as the global economic crisis, natural disasters and pandemics.