Message from the Global Partnership for Sustainable Tourism: World Tourism Day 2012

PARIS, 27.9.2012.

World Tourism Day is celebrated on September 27, 2012, under the theme 'Tourism and Sustainable Energies'.

Message from Gerard Ruiz, Chair of the Steering Committee of the Global Partnership for Sustainable Tourism, and Arab Hoballah, Chief of UNEP's Sustainable Consumption and Production Branch:

"On this day it is appropriate to pause and reflect on the accomplishments of the global tourism industry: to celebrate the successes, to acknowledge the challenges and to champion the continuing path to sustainable development.

In 2012, World Tourism Day is appropriately themed, Tourism & Sustainable Energy: Powering Sustainable Development. Travel and tourism continues to grow in spite of global economic, social and environmental challenges. Predictions are that the industry will celebrate its one billionth traveller in 2012. It is a global industry that repeatedly demonstrates its resilience to disasters and crisis at many destinations.

The rapid growth in both international and domestic travel, the trend to travel further over shorter periods of time, and the preference given to energy-intensive transportation modes, accommodation and activities, are increasing the energy dependency of the sector and its contribution to climate change. The latter amounts to 5 per cent of global anthropogenic emissions of carbon dioxide, and possibly as much 12.5 per cent of the overall contribution to climate change, including aircraft emissions. The transformation towards a more energy-efficient and low-carbon tourism economy will demand leadership, partnership between governments and the tourism industry, bold and coordinated actions, innovative research, significant investments in technology, as well as public education and enhanced consumer awareness.

These are among the challenges that we at the Global Partnership for Sustainable Tourism face while executing our mandate. We laud the industry’s accomplishments to date and its willingness to innovate and transform operations. We must not, however, be complacent. As the industry grows, it remains our mission to continue to work with our partners and colleagues across the globe to advocate for the vast majority of tourism industry establishments, workers and investors to adopt more sustainable energy solutions. Our aims are to shrink the tourism footprint and environmental impact in the face of industry growth and expansion, and to ensure that destinations are also reaping rewards in terms of job creation, opportunities for small- and medium-sized businesses that promote equitable economic and social development and more efficient use of resources.

On this day, we therefore commend the global tourism industry for embracing the challenges and reemphasize our commitment to collaborate with our partners, for a truly responsible and sustainable industry."

About World Tourism Day

World Tourism Day (WTD) is held annually on 27 September. Its purpose 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.