The United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) has recognised September 27 as World Tourism Day since 1980. This year's World Tourism Day is significant for Bangladesh's tourism sector, since the country has unanimously been elected as the Vice-Chair of the United Nations World Tourism Organisation's (UNWTO) Commission for South Asia for a two-year term.
World Tourism Day raises awareness of tourism's social, cultural, political, and economic importance, as well as the sector's potential contribution towards attaining the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). This year’s theme of World Tourism Day is “Tourism for Inclusive Growth” to inclusively grow the tourism industry to recover the loss incurred due to the global pandemic. Moreover, the inclusive development of tourism must be accessible to everybody since the human desire to travel and discover is universal.
Tourism has the power to bring people together, which will be essential in encouraging global collaboration in the fight against the pandemic-created problems like employment loss. Tourism is a key source of employment in many rural regions across the world. The Covid-19 outbreak has had a significant impact on the industry. Tourism is also one of the few sustainable economic sectors in many rural regions. An additional 32 million individuals will slip into extreme poverty by 2022. Women have been disproportionately affected by the pandemic, particularly in the least-developed countries. One explanation is that they are excessively concentrated on the businesses that were worst impacted by the pandemic, most notably tourism. The most vulnerable members of society have been the least prepared to deal with the pandemic's social and economic ramifications. Furthermore, low-wage workers, youth, the elderly, indigenous communities, and those with disabilities are more likely to lack the resources or opportunities to overcome the adversity.
The second concept of "Leave No One Behind" guides the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Tourism has an unrivalled potential to ensure that no one is left behind, as recognised by the Year of Tourism for Inclusive Development and World Tourism Day 2021. The sector is widely recognised as a cornerstone of the majority – if not all – to attain the Sustainable Development Goals, particularly Goal 1 (no poverty), 5 (gender equality), 8 (decent employment and economic development), and 10 (reduce inequalities). The United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) is the United Nations' specialised organisation for responsible and sustainable tourism, guiding the worldwide sector toward inclusive recovery and growth. UNWTO ensures that all sections of the sector, including communities, minorities, youth, and those at risk of being left behind, have a say in the industry's growth.
Bangladesh, like many other countries across the globe, has planned a variety of events to mark World Tourist Day 2021 under the global theme 'Tourist for Inclusive Growth' in order to effectively promote the country's tourism sector on a global scale.
In order to revive its economy, Bangladesh has turned its attention to tourism development. Tourism has been identified as a priority sector by the government of Bangladesh, since it is a labour-intensive industry that has the potential to produce foreign currency for the economy. Indeed, from 1995 to 2018, the number of international tourists has doubled, when the number of tourism-related jobs increased three times. Despite Bangladesh's vast and diverse natural and cultural resources, the country's geographical location, as well as perceived safety and security issue, has impeded tourists’ growth. A country's accessibility and international openness is important for international tourism growth. While more tourist visits are vital for tourism development, long-term tourism growth needs careful planning and management. While the recent coronavirus pandemic and accompanying containment measures have had a negative impact on the economy, the tourism industry has considerable potential to support the country's economy and contribute to job growth in the post-pandemic period. Tourism provides job opportunities for people with a wide range of skills and experience levels, enabling social inclusion. To guarantee that tourist development leads to inclusive growth, the tourism sector must be integrated into the local economy, and the economic benefits of tourism must be expanded geographically to include less travelled and less prosperous areas.
There is no other industry that has a comparable long-term and diversified multiplier effect on the economy, contributing considerably to a country's overall growth. Tourism helps reduce economic inequality by creating job opportunities for people from all walks of life. It has the potential to make a significant contribution to the government's budget as well as the country's foreign exchange reserves. Because tourism's very existence and future rely on the preservation of natural, historical, and cultural resources, it plays a crucial role in supporting sustainable growth and environmental protection, both of which are essential for humanity's survival.
By concentrating on the world's most pressing concerns, such as climate change, global terrorism, and contagious diseases, tourism helps increase pressure on governments and civil society to solve them. Furthermore, whether in information technology, aviation, or any other industry, it is a crucial component in bringing forth breakthrough technological developments and promoting technology distribution. Given all of this, it is no surprise that every government on the planet wants to promote tourism and with the awakening of all the industries going back to their past position, Bangladesh also needs its tourist back.
The writer is a Researcher, Department of Recreation, Park, and Tourism Sciences, Texas A&M University, USA and Assistant Professor, University of Dhaka