On World Tourism Day, we take a look at the way tourism and travel has become an integral part of our lives and the world economy.
The purpose of World Tourism Day is to foster awareness among the international community of the importance of tourism and its social, cultural, political and economic value. The event seeks to address global challenges outlined in the United Nations Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and to highlight the contribution the tourism sector can make in reaching these goals.
With a record 467 million tourists travelling in the first half of 2012, international tourism remains firmly on track to reach one billion tourists by the end of the year. Despite concerns over the global economy, international tourism demand continues to show resilience. The number of international tourists worldwide grew by 5% between January and June 2012 compared to the same period of 2011 (22 million more). Although a slight slowdown in growth can be expected for the rest of the year, international arrivals are forecast to exceed one billion by the end of 2012.
“Amid the current economic uncertainty, tourism is one of the few economic sectors in the world growing strongly, driving economic progress in developing and developed countries alike and, most importantly, creating much needed jobs,” said United Nations World Tourism Organisation Secretary-General, Taleb Rifai, opening the Global Tourism Economy Forum in Macao.
“As we lead up to the milestone of one billion, we need to ensure that the tourism sector is supported by adequate national policies and that we work to reduce existing barriers to the expansion of the sector, such as complicated visa procedures, increased direct taxation or limited connectivity,” he added.
Asia and the Pacific (+8%) led the growth by region, boosted by the recovery of Japanese inbound and outbound tourism as well as by the continued strong performance of other major source markets throughout the region. Destinations in South Asia and South-East Asia (both +9%) showed some of the best results worldwide. Europe (+4%), the most visited destination in the world, consolidated its record growth of 2011, despite continuing economic volatility in the Eurozone. The Americas (+5%) grew in line with the world average,
with Central America (+7%) and South America (+6%) recording the strongest results. In Africa (+7%), the return of tourist flows to Tunisia is reflected in the results of North Africa (+11%). Likewise, the rebound of Egypt is clearly mirrored in the results of the Middle-East (+0.7%).
Reduce your carbon footprint when travelling
- Choose an airline or hotel that gives you the chance to offset your carbon footprint when booking — donate and you will have a tree planted on your behalf.
- Avoid air travel whenever possible and opt for the train.
- Holiday closer to home
- If you are travelling by air, make a practice of booking flights with airlines that recycle waste from food, beverages and paper.
- Treat your hotel room like it’s your own house – Turn the lights and air conditioning off when you leave.
- Don’t hire a car whilst on holiday – use a bike or walk instead.
- Use rechargeable gadgets or even better a solar powered battery charger.
- Support the local community you are visiting by purchasing food/goods from local suppliers.
What impact does the travel industry have?
- Tourism is responsible for 5% of global CO2 emissions and contributes to 4.6% of global warming.
- The transport sector including car, air and rail generates the largest proportion of this, with 75% of all emissions.
- The average hotel stay results in carbon emissions of 29.53kg of CO2.
- 2 people flying within Europe will generate circa 1 tonne of carbon.
- One long-haul return flight can produce more CO2 per passenger than the average UK motorcyclist in 1 year.
- 2 people flying to Australia return will generate circa 7 tonnes of carbon.
- Air travel is considered the main tourism contributor to global warming: It is responsible for 40% of the total carbon emissions caused by this sector, while coach and rail contribute 13%.