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Tourism and Construction have Power to Lead Move to Sustainable Economies

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From infrastructure and communication to food production and transport, tourism and construction play key roles in a circular economy framework that supports sustainable development. The World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), together with the Sustainable Buildings and Construction Programme of the One Planet Network, addressed this challenge during the United Nations High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (9-18 July, New York, USA).

Tourism and construction are part of the overall economic value chain. Best practices in circular economy thinking that can help these large economic sectors shift to sustainable consumption and production (SCP) were at the centre of the event ‘Tourism & Construction: Circular Economy solutions for SDG12’, organized by UNWTO.

Advancing sustainability in the tourism sector and fulfilling its responsibility in the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) is a task that benefits from new technological advances, continuous innovation and the strengthening of models such as the circular economy. Especially in view of SDG12 on ‘sustainable consumption and production patterns’, and considering the need to grow responsibly as a sector overall, tourism has an important role to play in the decoupling of economic development from resource use.

With its vast links to other economic activities and direct interaction between consumer and producer, tourism can – if managed well – create positive, long-lasting impacts that go well beyond the sector. Adapting circular production and consumption patterns that accelerate sustainability is therefore key to the long-term health and resilience of tourism businesses and destinations.

Against both this background and the review of SDG 12 at the High-Level Political Forum, the event ‘Tourism & Construction: Circular Economy solutions for SDG12underscored that embracing circularity implies robust measurement and monitoring of impacts of tourism and construction activities, including energy and water use efficiency, climate change mitigation, waste management, local sourcing, sustainable land use, biodiversity protection and decent employment, among others.

The 17 SDGs represent a common vision for prosperity, equality, justice and climate action, brought together under the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Goal 12 calls for more responsible SCP patterns and practices across sectors, with the One Planet Multi-Partner Trust Fund for SDG 12, inaugurated on 17 July 2018, to support partners’ commitments to accelerating this shift. The Fund is a joint effort of the UN Environment Programme, the Food and Agriculture Organization, UNWTO, UN-Habitat and the UN Office for Project Services.

Tourism & Construction: Circular Economy solutions for SDG12 featured panels and presentations from the governments and tourism and development administrations of Bhutan, Botswana, Finland, France, Mexico and Switzerland. The gathering also played host to the launch of UNWTO’s Tourism for SDGs Platform, an interactive online tool that aims to create collaboration, motivate discussion and foster action between the tourism sector and the world of sustainable development. The platform, developed with the support of the Swiss Secretariat for Economic Affairs, is for policy makers, companies and all tourism stakeholders to connect and jointly advance their SDG implementation strategies.

Concluding the event, the Head of Delegation for Sustainable Development from the Ministry for the Ecological and Inclusive Transition of France stressed the need to accelerate the shift towards SCP and encouraged both tourism and construction to build cross-sectorial cooperation. If properly developed and used, circular economy solutions will be instrumental to transforming the sustainability of our economic model.

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AIIB to Support Indonesia’s Sustainable Tourism Development

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The Board of Directors of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) has approved a USD248.4-million loan to the Indonesia Tourism Development Corporation, with a guarantee of the Republic of Indonesia (Indonesia), in support of the Mandalika Urban and Tourism Infrastructure Project. This will be AIIB’s first stand-alone operation in Indonesia and AIIB’s first tourism-related infrastructure investment.

The global tourism industry continues to grow and is a vital source of employment and income, contributing over 10 percent of global gross domestic product and linked to 10 percent of jobs worldwide. Indonesia has a strong comparative tourism advantage in accelerating job creation given its rich tourism resources.

The project aims to provide sustainable essential infrastructure for the development of new tourism destinations in the Mandalika region of Lombok, including infrastructure improvements in surrounding communities. By facilitating private sector investment, the project is expected to create a significant amount of direct, indirect and induced employment in tourism as well as related businesses, boosting Indonesia’s tourism competitiveness and sustainable economic growth.

The project is aligned with the Government of Indonesia’s midterm development plan and the Indonesia Tourism Development Priority Program. AIIB’s participation is expected to help optimize project design and implementation, thereby maximizing economic and social interlinkages and promoting sustainable development.

“AIIB is mandated to foster sustainable economic development in Asia by investing in infrastructure,” said AIIB Vice President and Chief Investment Officer D. J. Pandian. “This project reflects the synergy of AIIB’s efforts and initiatives of the Government of Indonesia in promoting sustainable tourism development in the country.”

“By investing in tourism-related infrastructure, we can promote balanced regional development in Indonesia and contribute to poverty reduction,” said AIIB Director General of Investment Operations Yee Ean Pang. “Women are likely to benefit from the project as tourism tends to employ a higher proportion of women.”

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Cultural Tourism Sustains Communities and Living Heritage

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The third cultural tourism conference (3-5 December) organized jointly between the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) concluded today in Istanbul, Turkey. Participants declared their support for cultural tourism as a driver for safeguarding living heritage, catalyzing creativity in cities, and spreading tourism’s socioeconomic benefits to all.

Organized with the support of the Ministry of Culture and Tourism of the Republic of Turkey under the theme ‘for the Benefit of All’, the conference explored the potential of the tourism and culture partnership, along with new trends in technology and visitor management, to bring the widest range of benefits to visitors and host communities while safeguarding cultural values.

A key conclusion from the conference was the need for a clear and strong link between tourism, culture and local community stakeholders. Cultural tourism policies and strategies must consider the perspectives and interests of local communities, who can also assist governance bodies in balancing tourism development with heritage conservation and safeguarding. Channelling tourism revenues into cultural preservation and community development was identified as a key governance challenge.

President Marie-Louise Coleiro Preca of Malta addressed the conference at its opening, reinforcing that: “In today’s world, tourism diplomacy is becoming more important to foster understanding, and culture is key to achieving this”.

UNESCO Deputy Director-General Xing Qu affirmed tourism’s essential role, stating: “Tourism provides a tremendous opportunity to support local economic development, while breaking down barriers between people. Harnessing creativity and technological innovation, as well as safeguarding heritage is essential for promoting responsible and sustainable tourism to support and unify communities for years to come.”

“Culture is one of the drivers of tourism growth, so protecting cultural heritage and promoting tourism for sustainable development are part of the same equation. That 30-plus ministers from around the world are gathered here proves the place of culture in tourism,” said UNWTO Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashvili opening the event.

These sentiments were echoed by Turkey’s culture and tourism minister Mehmet Ersoy. “The culture and tourism partnership provides a framework for public-private cooperation, education, investments and sustainability,” Minister Ersoy added.

In a debate moderated by the BBC’s Rajan Datar, the more than 30 ministers present concluded that tourism and culture are indivisible and must work together so that tourism does not suffocate cultural heritage and its benefits for visitors and locals. However, the main challenge is to spread cultural tourism’s attractiveness beyond established sites whilst managing large visitor numbers.

The first session of the conference focused on cultural tourism’s potential to help cities transform into more sustainable and creative environments and destinations. It ended in agreement that the creative and cultural sectors can strengthen and provide innovation in cultural tourism, forging links that turn tourism into a tool to safeguard tangible and intangible cultural heritage.

The second day of the event was given over to the twin influence of responsible tourism and technological advances in safeguarding intangible cultural heritage. It was agreed that innovation should be strengthened for better management, promotion and preservation of heritage, as well as to make cultural tourism accessible to all.

During the event, five leading Turkish tourism companies signed the Private Sector Commitment to the UNWTO Global Code of Ethics for Tourism, boosting the efforts of Turkish industry leaders to ensure sustainable development of the sector.

The 3rd UNWTO/UNESCO World Conference on Tourism and Culture will produce a declaration, to be made available soon, outlining the cross-sector commitment of all participants to reinforcing the tourism and culture partnership as an enabler for achieving the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda of the United Nations. The next edition of the conference is scheduled to take place in Kyoto, Japan in 2019.

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2018 Poised to Advance Tourism’s Leadership among Top Global Economic Sectors

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The latest figures on world tourism issued by the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) show that international tourist arrivals grew 5% year-on-year in the first nine months of 2018. This reflects continued strong demand in a favourable overall economic context. 

All world regions enjoyed robust growth in international tourism in the first nine months of this year, fuelled by solid demand from major source markets. Asia and the Pacific led growth (+7%), followed by Europe and the Middle East (+6% each), Africa (+5%) and the Americas (+3%).

Despite comparatively slower growth between July and September, UNWTO estimates that destinations worldwide received 1,083 million international arrivals through September, an additional 56 million when compared to the same period of 2017.

2018 results to date are in line with UNWTO’s growth forecast of +4% to +5% for the year. The first nine months of the year usually account for about three quarters of total annual international arrivals, as they include the Northern Hemisphere high season months of July and August.

Positive growth in tourism earnings across most destinations

With few exceptions, preliminary data on international tourism receipts confirm the positive trend seen in arrivals, with particularly strong results in Asian and European destinations.

Among the top earners, tourism earnings in the United Kingdom were up by 12% despite a decline in arrivals. In Australia, receipts increased by 11% whereas France reported an 8% growth and Italy 6%, both in line with growth in arrivals. Tourism receipts in the United States, Spain and Germany went up 3%.

In Asia, China recorded a 21% increase in tourism earnings, with Macao (China) and Japan also leading results with 20% and 19% growth, respectively.

International tourism expenditure

Preliminary data on tourism spending for the first nine months of 2018 reflect increasing demand from major source markets.

The Russian Federation (+15%) reported the largest increase in spending and continues to recover strongly after some years of decline. The United Kingdom reported 10% growth despite a weak pound against the euro and US dollar, and tourism spending from France picked up 10% after some years of rather flat growth.

The United States, the world’s second largest source market, recorded a 7% increase in line with the performance of recent years while top source market China showed a minor decrease in spending in the first six months of 2018 as a result of the weaker Yuan.

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