Due to its multiplier effect, tourism generates economic and social benefits that help boost a destination’s economy, with the result that it is an important source of income for many countries. However, tourism also produces negative impacts that have a direct impact on natural and cultural resources. The warning signal prompted international organizations to hold a number of summit meetings and conferences and to sign agreements (Rio +20, Cape Town Declaration, etc.). The situation also led several sectors to take an active stance, recognizing the importance of reducing and mitigating the negative impacts of their activities, in addition to including sustainability as a strategy for the conservation of natural resources for the benefit of future generations. These concerns, coupled with the UN’s initiatives to lay the foundations for sustainable economic development that have taken shape this year, led to the official declaration of the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development. The year 2017 will be an opportunity for the Travel Industry to contribute to the generation of a sustainable awareness and promote an effective collaboration between different sectors, based on the sustainability paradigm, in other words, taking into account the economic, environmental and social impacts caused by their activities.
The Travel Industry is one of the main generators of employment and economic activity, linked to 10% of jobs worldwide (WTTC – World Travel and Tourism Council) and accounts for 10% of global GDP (Tourism4development), or roughly US$ 1 trillion (UNEP). Moreover, tourism helps with the generation of foreign exchange, especially in receiving countries. It is one of the fastest growing sectors in the entire world, going from a figure of 25 million international arrivals in 1950 to one of 806 million in 2005, with an average annual growth rate of 6.5% (UNEP). Forecasts indicate that the pace will continue to expand, rising to a total of 1.6 billion international arrivals in the year 2020 and one of 2.6 billion in the year 2050 (UNWTO).
Chile is accompanying the growing global trend, with a record 5.6 million tourists arriving in the country in 2016, with half of them coming in by plane. It should be stressed that air transport is responsible for the production of CO2, which is one of the main causes of climate change. It is also necessary to bear in mind that the protection of ecosystems is an fundamental requirement for their maintenance over time, which is essential for Chile, given that its natural heritage is one of the major attractions for tourists to visit the country. Fully aware of the planetary challenges that are emerging in this century, through FEDETUR we hope to play a significant role in the dissemination of sustainable information and practices. For example, we support the development of the S Seal, an initiative to recognize those companies that place a high value on sustainability. In addition, we want to actively adhere to the promotion of the values of the year # IYST2017. With this purpose, we will hold an event on March 22 with the presence of various sustainable organizations that represent the five areas promoted by #IYST2017. These are companies that have already won awards from FEDETUR or that stand out in the fields of environmental preservation, social inclusion and/or fair trade, such as Fundación Artesanías Chile and Smatrip, among others. The idea is that the creation of awareness originates with the private sector, spreading sound practices with concrete examples of companies who are currently leading the transformation of manufacturing from the point of view of sustainability. For more information about the event, click on this link.
The opinions expressed in this text are the author’s opinion and do not necessarily reflect the position of WTM Latin América.