Tourism, a key sector in the world

Over the past six decades, tourism has experienced continued expansion and diversification, and it has become one of the fastest growing and most important economic sectors in the world, benefiting destinations and communities worldwide. International tourist arrivals worldwide have grown from 25 million in 1950 to nearly 1.3 billion today Similarly, international tourism revenues earned by destinations around the world have grown from 2 billion US dollars in 1950 to 1260 trillion in 2015. The sector represents an estimated 10% of the world’s GDP and 1 in 10 jobs globally.

The UN World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) expects that tourism will continue to grow at an average of 3% annually until 2030. This growth reflects the progressive expansion of access to tourism thanks to the decline in the price of transport, especially air transport, and growing middle classes worldwide. The recognition of the right to holidays in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and the improved adoption of labour rights in many countries, have also supported the coming of age of tourism. These factors also serve as a backdrop for the resilience shown by tourism in recent years. The sector has experienced almost uninterrupted growth despite challenges such as the global economic crisis, natural disasters and pandemics.

Tourism and the Digital Transformation

What opportunities do technological advances like big data, artificial intelligence and digital platforms provide to tourism and sustainable development? The answers will be found at World Tourism Day (WTD) 2018, where digital advances and innovation take centre stage to bring together continued growth with greater sustainability in tourism. This year we will highlight the need for investment in disruptive digital technologies that can foster an environment for innovation and entrepreneurship in tourism.

The  celebration will be held in Budapest, Hungary, a country enjoying steady growth of tourism backed by consistent policy support and a commitment to the digital future. Other celebrations will take place worldwide.

The sessions of the event will explore the opportunities provided to the tourism sector by technological advances, including big data and digital platforms.

The event will also host the announcement of the semi-finalists of the 1st UNWTO Tourism Startup Competition, launched by UNWTO and Globalia to give visibility to startups with innovative ideas capable of revolutionizing the way we travel and enjoy tourism.

World Tourism Day is a global initiative, and we invite you to join the celebrations and outreach in your country. More information at the UNWTO website.

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