It’s a new year, which means that around the world, people are making resolutions to better themselves.
The United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) is getting in on the action, designating 2017 as the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development.
Through this order, which encourages people to “Travel - Enjoy - Respect” the world, the UNWTO hopes to promote, highlight, educate, and raise awareness about the myriad ways sustainable tourism spurs development around the world and is a beneficial force in the travel and tourism industry - a global juggernaut which annually moves 1 billion people around the world on vacations per year, generates trillions in global gross domestic product, and employs roughly 1 out of 11 people.
Through social media campaigns and other awareness-building, the UNWTO hopes the year will result in influencing travelers, businesses, and governments to support sustainable tourism initiatives.
The fact that the UN has designated an entire year to this cause is a huge win for the industry, which focuses on the future of travel and hopes to lessen or eliminate its negative impacts around the globe, which can include environmental destruction, loss of wildlife, poverty, inequality and unemployment, loss of cultural values or heritage, and more.
Firstly, what is sustainable tourism? The UNWTO defines it as “tourism that takes full account of its current and future economic, social and environmental impacts, addressing the needs of visitors, the industry, the environment and host communities.”
For the year, the UNWTO has five goals for promoting tourism in these areas: 1) inclusive and sustainable economic growth; 2) social inclusiveness, employment and poverty reduction; 3) resource efficiency, environmental protection and climate change; 4) cultural values, diversity and heritage; and 5) mutual understanding, peace and security.
The celebration kicks off with an opening party in Madrid, Spain in January, followed by a year-long extravaganza of conferences, exhibitions, awareness campaigns, events, and even a blogger’s competition, before finishing up in December with a closing ceremony in Geneva, Spain. All UNWTO events, such as World Tourism Day on September 27th, will be celebrated around this theme.
Why does this matter to us? Here at Cascada, sustainable tourism is a key part of our values and philosophy as a company, and for all our employees as well. This dedication to sustainability is especially evident in the founding principles, design, and operation of our partner hotel, EcoCamp Patagonia, the world’s first sustainable geodesic dome hotel.
Running on green energy through solar and hydraulic power, practicing localism, reducing waste and recycling, using composting toilets, being Carbon Neutral, and working every day to further reduce its environmental impact, EcoCamp is a leader and inspiration in the field of sustainable tourism.
From all of us here at Cascada Expediciones and EcoCamp Patagonia, we look forward to supporting the 2017 International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development, and continuing to work toward creating a more sustainable industry and world.
To find out more about what you can do to support sustainable tourism and be a responsible traveler, visit the United Nations World Tourism Organization website here.
Follow campaign on Twitter: #IY2017