Water is one of tourism main assets: UNWTOListen /
"Water is one of tourism's main assets. Each year, millions of people travel around the world to enjoy water destinations both inland and in coastal areas and Caribbean destinations play a key role in this".
That's what the Regional Director for the Americas of the UN World Tourism Organization told the 14th Sustainable Tourism Conference, organized by the Caribbean Tourism Organization in Trinidad and Tobago.
Carlos Vogeler said that "building a more responsible tourism sector is not only a moral and ethical concern. It also makes clear business sense.
Sustainability is no longer an option, but an ever more pressing necessity".
He said water is also one of tourism's most precious resources, and as one of the largest economic sectors in the world, it is the responsibility of tourism industries to take a leadership role and ensure companies and destinations invest in adequate water management through the value chain. "If managed sustainably", he said, "tourism can bring benefits to the national and local communities and support water preservation".
At the same time, the UNWTO official warned that the global economic situation remains fragile and instability continues in certain parts of the world, affecting consumption and obviously impacting many source markets of tourists.
But he was quick to add that never before have so many people travelled to so many places, noting that fewer places on the planet have escaped the curiosity of the traveler.
He said these tourists generate over 1 trillion US dollars in exports for the countries they visit every year, which is close to 6% of the world's exports of goods and services, and one in every 12 jobs worldwide is connected to the tourism sector.
According to Mr. Vogeler, the UNWTO is forecasting an average annual growth of 3,3% to the year 2030 to hit 1.8 billion international tourists. He said while these numbers are impressive the impact of tourism on the ground is far more relevant, explaining that tourism means jobs, business opportunities for small and medium enterprises, the renewal of urban and rural areas and, if managed in a sustainable manner, the preservation and promotion of a country's natural and cultural heritage.
Donn Bobb, United Nations.