World Tourism Day 2020: Date, history, significance and celebrations amid Covid-19 – travel

If there is one sector which has heavily borne the brunt of coronavirus in all the countries and washed out a massive chunk of their economy, it is the tourism industry. This year, World Tourism Day not only highlights travel sector’s importance in preserving and promoting culture and heritage all around the world but also presents an opportunity to rethink tourism industry’s future.

Through its social, cultural, political and economic value, the tourism sector contributes to the sustainable development goals. It can also help advance global cooperation beyond the pandemic in current times by bringing people together and promoting solidarity and trust.

About 100 to 120 million direct tourism jobs are at risk as per the data from the UN World Tourism Organization (UNWTO). A more sustainable and inclusive tourism sector in crucial given the loss of 1.5 to 2.8 per cent of global GDP has been forecasted by the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD).

Date and history

Ever since 1980, World Tourism Day is celebrated annually across the world on September 27. It was on this day in 1970 when the Statutes of the UNWTO were adopted which are considered a milestone in global tourism. UNWTO celebrated the first World Tourism Day as an international observance on September 27, 1980.

Significance

The purpose of this day is to raise awareness on the important of tourism in affecting the social, cultural, political and economic values of international community. In current times, it is important to raise awareness about the tourism sector given that 90% of World Heritages Sites closed as a result of the pandemic and young people in rural communities are three times more likely to be unemployed.

However, domestic tourism is expected to return before international tourism, as per UNWTO foresight. This could benefit rural communities if managed well.

Theme and celebrations amid Covid-19

The theme for World Tourism Day 2020 is “Tourism and Rural Development” as countries across the world depend on the sector to drive recovery. This year will celebrate the importance of tourism in providing jobs and opportunity, mostly for women and youth, in rural as well as big cities and in preserving cultural and natural heritage all around the world apart from being a leading employer and economic pillar.

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