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.

 

2019 Theme: "Tourism and Jobs — A Better Future For All"

Tourism's role in job creation is often undervalued. This is despite the fact that tourism generates 10% of world jobs and is included in Sustainable Development Goal 8 for its potential to create decent work.

Nevertheless, new policies are needed to:

  • Maximize tourism’s potential to create more and better jobs, especially for women and youth.
  • Reflect and incorporate ongoing advances in technology.
  • Address the current mismatch between tourism skills that are taught and those that tourism employers need.

This requires a holistic approach to the future of work in tourism, with heightened cooperation between all actors, including the public and private sectors. That is why, in 2019, in line with UNWTO’s overarching focus on skills, education and jobs throughout the year, World Tourism Day will be a celebration on the topic 'Tourism and Jobs: a better future for all.'

The special event, organized every year by UNWTO, will be held this time in New Delhi, India. More info here.

 

Why do we mark International Days?

International days are occasions to educate the public on issues of concern, to mobilize political will and resources to address global problems, and to celebrate and reinforce achievements of humanity. The existence of international days predates the establishment of the United Nations, but the UN has embraced them as a powerful advocacy tool. More information available here.