Travel continues to boost economies around the world
By Summit Voice
SUMMIT COUNTY — As expected, global tourism hit a significant milestone late this year, with more than 1 billion travelers taking to the skies, seas and highways to visit destinations near and far, according to the World Tourism Organization, which closely monitors world travel statistics.
Tourism growth continued in 2012 despite continued economic challenges. The WTO said the relative strength of sector underscores the economic importance of tourism, accounting for 9 percent of global GDP (direct, indirect and induced impact), one in every 12 jobs and up to 8 percent of the total exports of the world’s least developed countries.
“Today, we welcome the symbolic arrival of the one-billionth tourist” UNWTO Secretary-General, Taleb Rifai said Dec. 13 at a ceremony in Madrid.
Rifai emphasized travel and tourism as a potentially powerful force for good:
“Your actions count. That is our message to the one billion tourists. Through the right actions and choices, each tourist represents an opportunity for a fairer, more inclusive and more sustainable future,” he said.
As it is impossible to know exactly where the one-billionth tourist arrived, so many countries celebrated the the occasion by welcoming tourists arriving on 13 December.
To coincide with the milestone, the WTO launched a new One Billion Tourists: One Billion Opportunities campaign, showing tourists that respecting local culture, preserving heritage or buying local goods when travelling can make a big difference. The public was asked to vote for the Travel Tip that would have the greatest benefit for the people and places they visit and to pledge to follow that tip when traveling.
The winning tip, revealed on the arrival date of the one-billionth tourist, was “buy local,” encouraging tourists to buy food and souvenirs locally, or hire local guides, to ensure their spending translates into jobs and income for host communities. A close second, “respect local culture,” calls on tourists to learn more about their destination’s traditions, or some words in the local language, before leaving home.