Every year, September 27 is celebrated as World Tourism Day. Tourism is one of the world’s most important economic sectors. It employs one in every ten people on Earth and provides livelihoods to hundreds of millions more. For some countries, contributes to over 20 percent of their GDP. 2020 marks the 40th anniversary of the first World Tourism Day.
Several important contributions of the tourism sector encouraged the UN World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) to institute World Tourism Day. The day was first observed in 1980.
"Tourism allows people to experience some of the world’s cultural and natural riches and brings people closer to each other, highlighting our common humanity," says United Nations.
This year, however, tourism has gone virtual owing to the outbreak of the COVID-19. The industry is among those worst-affected due to the coronavirus pandemic.
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Restrictions on travel and a drop in consumer demand have led to an unprecedented fall in international tourism numbers, which in turn have led to economic loss and the loss of jobs.
The theme of World Tourism Day 2020:
The theme of the 2020 edition of World Tourism Day is 'Tourism and Rural Development'. It aims to celebrate the role played by tourism in providing opportunities outside of big cities and preserving cultural and natural heritage all around the world.
"Development through tourism can keep rural communities alive. Tourism is a lifeline, offering young people a chance to earn a living without having to migrate either within their home countries or abroad," UN said.
Speaking on the occasion, United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said that tourism has suffered enormously during the COVID-19 pandemic and safe restart of tourism is essential.
"Some 120 million jobs are at risk. The impacts could lead to the loss of between 1.5 and 2.8 percent of the global GDP. This will particularly affect the most vulnerable countries, where tourism can represent between 30 and 80 per cent of exports," he said.
In this most challenging year, let us focus on tourism’s importance for people living in rural areas, so we can deliver on the promise of the Sustainable Development Goals, Guterres added.
World Tourism Day 2020 celebrations:
For the first time in the 40-year history of World Tourism Day, the official celebration will not be hosted by a single Member State of the United Nations. Instead, nations from the Mercosur bloc (Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay, with Chile joining with observer status) will serve as joint hosts.
"This co-hosting agreement exemplifies the spirit of international solidarity which UNWTO has recognized as essential for recovery. Cross-border cooperation reflects the current need for international solidarity and cooperation. This is especially true for tourism, working together towards a common goal," UN said in a statement.
World Tourism Day celebrations in India:
On the occasion, the Ministry of Tourism launched the SAATHI application. "On World Tourism Day, Ministry of Tourism launches SAATHI application to ensure safety preparedness in the hospitality industry," Tourism Ministry tweeted.
SAATHI, which stands for System for Assessment, Awareness & Training for Hospitality Industry will help hotels, restaurants and other hospitality units take suitable measures to restrict any transmission of the COVID-19 virus