a collage that includes a person taking a photograph, a lady celebrating Day of the Dead, and a mosque.
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.
Photo:UN Composition with photographs under Creative Common license.

Tourism for inclusive growth

The COVID-19 pandemic has had a massive social and economic impact. Both developed and developing economies have been hit. And marginalized groups and the most vulnerable have been hit hardest of all. The restart of tourism will help kickstart recovery and growth. It is essential that the benefits this will bring are enjoyed widely and fairly.

World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) has therefore designated World Tourism Day 2021 as a day to focus on “Tourism for Inclusive Growth.”

UNWTO as the United Nations specialized agency for responsible and sustainable tourism, is guiding the global sector towards inclusive recovery and growth. UNWTO ensures every part of the sector has a say in its future – including communities, minorities, youth and those who would otherwise be at risk of being left behind.

Tourism is a recognized pillar of most – if not all – the Sustainable Development Goals (SGDs), particularly Goals 1 (no poverty), 5 (gender equality), 8 (decent work and economic growth) and 10 (reduce inequalities).

Help us to promote this International Day and the value of tourism through our promotional material (images, graphics and social media logos), participate in our photographic initiative or publish your event through the website of the UNWTO.

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The impact of COVID-19 on tourism

The impact of COVID-19 on tourism will cost the world economy 4 trillion dollars. Developing countries will be among the most affected ones. Check the report or the latest information from the World Tourism Organization.

Global vaccination plan crucial for a recovery

The biggest crisis in the history of tourism continues into a second year. Between January and May, international tourist arrivals were 85% below 2019 levels (or a 65% drop on 2020). Despite a small uptick in May, the emergence of COVID-19 variants and the continued imposition of restrictions are weighing on the recovery of international travel. Meanwhile, domestic tourism continues to rebound in many parts of the world.

The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on tourism could result in a more than $4 trillion loss to the global economy and tourism experts do not expect a return to pre-COVID arrival levels until 2023 or later.

Developing countries have borne the biggest brunt of the pandemic’s impact on tourism due to the absence of widespread COVID-19 vaccinations. They suffered the largest reductions in tourist arrivals in 2020, estimated at between 60% and 80%.

On this World Tourism Day, the COVID-19 pandemic represents an opportunity to rethink the future of the tourism sector. Tourism has a unique ability to make sure nobody is left behind, as recognized by the Second Principle of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and its SDGs.

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Did you know?

  • Tourism employs one in every ten people on Earth. Because of the pandemic, 100-120 million direct tourism jobs are at risk.
  • UNWTO foresees that domestic tourism will return before international tourism. Managed well, this could benefit rural communities.
  • The asymmetric roll-out of vaccines magnifies the economic blow tourism has suffered in developing countries, as they could account for up to 60% of the global GDP losses.




A couple enjoying the view of Horseshoe Bend

The World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) is a leading UN international agency in the field of tourism. Its mission is to promote tourism as a driver of economic growth, inclusive development and environmental sustainability and offers leadership and support to the sector in advancing knowledge and tourism policies worldwide. Discover how they are working to cope with this pandemic along with the tourism sector and other UN agencies. 

Tourists feeding a turtle

Tourism creates jobs, promotes local culture and products, works in the sustainable use and management of the environment, like marine resources, and improves measures to make tourism an inclusive experience for all. That is the spirit of our Sustainable Development Goals, a global call to action to eradicate poverty, protect the planet and ensure that all people enjoy peace and prosperity. Discover more about how tourism is helping us to achieve these goals by 2030. 


illustration of people with clock, calendar, to-do list and decorations

International days and weeks 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. We also mark other UN observances.