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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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UNIDO Project in Kyrgyzstan named “Project of the Year”

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The United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) received the “Project of the Year” award for its activities related to “Linking the tourism industry to productive activities in the Issyk-Kul region of the Kyrgyz Republic”, which are funded by the Russian Federation.

The UNIDO project was officially acknowledged for its achievements in the field of development and promotion of the tourism sector of the Kyrgyz Republic by the Kyrgyz Ministry of Culture, Information and Tourism during the ceremony of the Kyrgyz Tourism Awards on World Tourism Day.

Thanks to UNIDO seminars on food safety, sustainable and eco-tourism, marketing and management skills, representatives of local producers and of the tourism sector improved their marketing and hotel management skills, with two UNIDO beneficiaries also being recognized:

On behalf of the Prime Minister of the Kyrgyz Republic, UNIDO beneficiary Asylbek Razhiev was named “Man of the Year” for his special contribution to the development of tourism, and Nurbek Saparov, another UNIDO beneficiary, was named “Best Guide”.

More than two hundred representatives of the business community, international organizations, the tourism, culture and media sectors as well as politicians and diplomats attended the 2019 Kyrgyz Tourism Awards.

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Tourism Leading Other Global Sectors in Advancing Gender Equality

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The World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), in collaboration with UN Women, The German Society for International Cooperation (GIZ), World Bank Group and Amadeus, has launched the long-awaited second edition of the Global Report on Women in Tourism. The publication highlights the progress the global tourism sector has made in advancing gender equality, with key case studies and statistics gathered from around the world.

The key findings show that:

The majority of the tourism workforce worldwide is female: 54% of people employed in tourism are women compared to 39% in the broader economy

The wage-gap is smaller in the tourism sector: Women in tourism earn 14.7% less than men compared to 16.8% in the broader economy

Tourism offers women more opportunities for leadership roles: 23% of tourism Ministers are female compared to 20.7% of Ministers overall

The report also highlights how more and more women are challenging gender stereotypes in the sector.

In Morocco, for example, women have been issued tour guide licenses for the first time. An airline in the UK has doubled the number of female pilots they employ and Uganda’s Hotel Owner’s Association is now lead by its first female CEO.

Technology has also been a catalyst for empowerment, providing women with access to more training opportunities and stimulating female entrepreneurship through easier access to the tourism market.

In the public sphere, policy-makers are waking up to the importance of gender equality in tourism and putting measures in place to ensure women fairly share the benefits that tourism can bring.

Speaking on these findings UNWTO Secretary-General, Zurab Pololikashvili, said “tourism is leading the charge for female empowerment all over the world. Across the private and public sectors women are harnessing the potential of tourism to become financially independent, challenge stereotypes and start their own businesses.

UNWTO is firmly committed to working towards UN Sustainable Development Goal 5 – the empowerment of women and girls – and ensuring that tourism continues to be at the forefront of gender-equality efforts.”

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UNWTO Joins Asia-Pacific Sector Leaders to Address Overcrowding In Urban Destinations

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The World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), the Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) and the People’s Government of Guilin (China) held the 13th UNWTO/PATA Forum on Tourism Trends and Outlook in Guilin from 17 to 19 October 2019. Over 170 participants from 23 countries/regions came together to share their knowledge and experience around the theme ‘Beyond Gateways: Dispersal policies, capacity management, and rural tourism’. 

UNWTO Executive Director Manuel Butler said at the Opening Ceremony, “today we gather in the Chinese city of Guilin to present our latest tourism research and to discuss dispersal policies, capacity management and the efforts to better understand and prevent the phenomenon of overcrowding is some urban destinations.”

“Guilin is deeply committed to the sustainable development of tourism, and through this forum the city has become a prominent center for the exchange of tourism knowledge in Asia and the Pacific”, Mr. Butler added.

International tourist arrivals in Asia and the Pacific grew 7% in 2018 to reach a total of 348 million, one fourth of the world’s total. Asia recorded the strongest growth in international arrivals in the period 2000 to 2018, much of which has been fuelled by China, the world’s top source market. Chinese citizens made about 150 million international trips in 2018.

During the Keynote Session on sustainable tourism, Vincent Nijs from VisitFlanders (Belgium) discussed the transformational power of tourism in the context of a new future vision for tourism, including how flourishing destinations find a positive balance for the traveler, host and place.

Among the topics discussed at the Forum were the applications of big data to tourism measurement and dispersal policies, the integration of tourism with culture and creative industries, policies for managing sustainable tourism growth, capacity management and rural tourism.

The event counted with the participation of Amadeus, Telefonica, the World Bank, PATA, The Hong Kong Polytechnic University, the Los Angeles Convention and Tourism Board, the Guanxi University as well as research and policymakers from different countries in Asia and the Pacific and the world.

The Forum has become over the last 13 years a reference platform on global and regional tourism trends.

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