UN: Global economy still fragile

Port of Spain, Trinidad – Instability continues in certain parts of the world, impacting consumption and affecting tourism source markets. 

At the moment, there are 200 million people unemployed worldwide and over the next decade, according to the International Labour Organisation, in order to sustain economic growth and maintain social stability, an additional 600 million new jobs would need to be created. 

Carlos Vogeler is regional director for the Americas at the United Nations World Tourism Organization. He spoke to delegates at the Sustainable Tourism Conference here last week and said that there had been a transformation to a more globalised world. 

“[This is] a complex, interlocking and interdependent network, across which flows of goods, capital, ideas, information and now people, move faster than ever before,” he explained. 

This process of globalisation has behind it a number of forces which were not simply outcomes of a more globalised world, but actually its drivers. 

“The first one of these forces is the information technology and telecommunications, which has allowed us to communicate and process information in digital form and in real time like never before; quite simply transforming our lives.  

“The second one is the ‘Age of Mobility’, that has seen millions of people travelling in their own countries and across borders. The world is fast becoming urban, with over half of its population now living in urban areas and by 2030 this number will swell to almost 5 billion,” Mr. Vogeler said.  

These two long-term trends had not been diminished by the global economic crisis and, in fact, the opportunities created by both technology and mobility suggested that the world economy could be set again on a prosperous path, he said. The travel and tourism sector was a powerful and yet often-unnoticed mega-trend, which has emerged as a major driver of a new socio-economic model. 

“[T]ourism means jobs, business opportunities for small and medium enterprises, the renewal of urban and rural areas and, if managed in a sustainable manner, the preservation and promotion of a country’s natural and cultural heritage.  

“Crucially, tourism also means poverty reduction and brings opportunities to many communities. In fact, international tourism development in the last decade has seen the growth of many destinations of emerging economies, and today, nearly half of the one billion international tourist arrivals in the world are to emerging and developing economies, where those arrivals create and maintain jobs and income for those that need it most,” Mr. Vogeler said. 

However, without concerns for sustainability, tourism can develop in ways that may have detrimental impacts: causing damage to the environment; depleting scarce natural resources; disrupting social structures and cultural values; and even precipitating the exploitation of human beings,” he said.  

“It is against this background that we need to talk about ethics, about responsibility, about sustainability. A tourism sector that does not have an ethical basis is out of touch with the needs and the challenges of our times.” 

He explained that for the first time, tourism had been included in an outcome document of a UN Conference on Sustainable Development and that at the 2012 G20 summit in Mexico, in the leaders’ final declaration, they recognised, “the role of travel and tourism as a vehicle for job creation, economic growth and development.” 

He highlighted four main issues – travel facilitation, air connectivity, taxation plus energy efficiency and the impact of climate change. 

“As policy makers work to create the economic order we need for the future,” he said, 

“It becomes increasingly apparent that a new economy is emerging, with sectors like tourism at its very heart. As we position sustainability at the core of the tourism development agenda, we need to understand that this is not only our responsibility; it is also in our interest.  

“People and profit should go together, people and planet should go together, and planet and profit should also go together. To drive these actions, governments, private sector and tourists have to also act together.” 

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