Tourism in the 2030 Agenda
The year 2015 has been a milestone for global development as governments have adopted the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, along with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The bold agenda sets out a global framework to end extreme poverty, fight inequality and injustice, and fix climate change until 2030. Building on the historic Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), the ambitious set of 17 Sustainable Development Goals and 169 associated targets is people-centred, transformative, universal and integrated.
Harnessing tourism's benefits will be critical to achieving the sustainable development goals and implementing the post-2015 development agenda
Tourism has the potential to contribute, directly or indirectly, to all of the goals. In particular, it has been included as targets in Goals 8, 12 and 14 on inclusive and sustainable economic growth, sustainable consumption and production (SCP) and the sustainable use of oceans and marine resources, respectively.
Sustainable tourism is firmly positioned in the 2030 Agenda. Achieving this agenda, however, requires a clear implementation framework, adequate financing and investment in technology, infrastructure and human resources.
GOAL 1: NO POVERTY
Tourism can contribute to poverty reduction both in a direct manner – by generating jobs in tourism businesses or creating opportunities to supply goods and services to tourists and tourism businesses or to establish/run micro-, small and community-based tourism businesses – and, in an indirect manner, by using income generated tourism-related taxes and fees for initiatives addressing poverty reduction or investments in infrastructure stimulated by tourism development from which people living in poverty in a destination may also benefit.
GOAL 2: ZERO HUNGER
Tourism can spur sustainable agriculture, and its full integration in the tourism value chain, by promoting the sustainable production and supplies of food and beverages to tourism businesses and tourists. Agritourism can generate additional income, while enhancing the value of the tourism experience and local farmers’ capacity. The infrastructure needed for the development of tourism would also contribute to a stable supply of goods and services in the region, including food.
GOAL 3: GOOD HEALTH AND WELL-BEING
The link between tourism, health and well-being has been highlighted during the COVID-19 pandemic as the sector depends on contactintensive services. A destination with clean and hygienic tourism businesses and facilities, prevention plans and guidelines, to name only a few, is in a better position to restore consumer confidence – key for the economic recovery of the tourism sector during and after any health crisis. At the same time, taxes generated from tourism activities can be reinvested in improving health care and services of the local community.
GOAL 4: QUALITY EDUCATION
Tourism requires a large workforce. Thus, it has the potential to promote sustainable and inclusive socioeconomic development; and skillful workers are key for a sustainable tourism sector to prosper. Education programmes tailored to tourism businesses and their workers can increase opportunities for career growth, development and provide the knowledge and the skills necessary to succeed in the field. Furthermore, tourism stakeholders may play a significant role in sensitizing clients and local communities on their contribution to the SDGs.
GOAL 5: GENDER EQUALITY
Tourism is one of the sectors with the highest share of women who are employed or entrepreneurs, although women working in tourism are often concentrated in low-skilled or informal work. The sector can be a tool for women to unlock their potential, helping them become fully engaged and leading in every aspect of society. It can empower women in multiple ways, particularly through the provision of jobs and through income-generating opportunities in small - and larger-scale tourism and hospitality-related enterprises.
GOAL 6: CLEAN WATER AND SANITATION
Tourism investment for utilities can play a critical role in achieving water access and security, as well as hygiene and sanitation for all in tourism destinations and their surroundings. The efficient use of water in tourism, coupled with appropriate safety measures, wastewater management, pollution control and technology efficiency can be key to safeguarding our most precious resource.
GOAL 7: AFFORDABLE AND CLEAN ENERGY
Tourism is an energy-intensive sector; however, it can champion and accelerate the shift towards increased renewable energy shares in the global energy mix and prioritize energy efficiency across operations. The sector can be at the origin of the implementation of renewable energies in a local community. By promoting investments in clean energy sources, as well as advancing innovative solutions, tourism can help to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, mitigate climate change and contribute to access to energy for all.
GOAL 8: DECENT WORK AND ECONOMIC GROWTH
Tourism is one of the driving forces of global economic growth and is considered an effective sector for achieving decent work1 and economic growth in developing countries, especially so for the least developed countries (LDC) and landlocked developing countries (LLDCs) – a recognition reflected explicitly in Target 8.9.
Responsible and sustainable management of tourism will unlock tourism’s potential to stimulate job creation, particularly for vulnerable groups, contribute to rural development, favour economic diversification through the tourism value chain, promote cultural awareness and inclusiveness, and help preserve local cultural traditions, among others.
GOAL 9: INDUSTRY, INNOVATION AND INFRASTRUCTURE
Sustained investment in infrastructure and innovation is a crucial driver of economic growth and development. Tourism development relies on good public and private infrastructure. The sector can influence public policy for infrastructure upgrade and retrofit to be more sustainable, innovative, and resource-efficient, and moving towards low carbon growth, thus attracting tourists and other sources of foreign investment.
GOAL 10: REDUCED INEQUALITIES
Tourism can be a powerful tool for reducing inequalities if it engages local populations and all key stakeholders in its development. Tourism serves as an effective means for economic integration and diversification, and poverty reduction. It can impact on earned income and people’s livelihoods, development of local and rural economies, as well as on the natural and cultural environment. Furthermore, it can contribute to urban renewal and rural development by giving people the opportunity to prosper in their place of origin.
GOAL 11: SUSTAINABLE CITIES AND COMMUNITIES
A city that is not good for its citizens is not good for tourists. Tourism can help advance urban infrastructure and accessibility, promote regeneration, and preserve cultural and natural heritage – assets on which tourism depends. Investment in green infrastructure (more efficient transport, reduced air pollution) should result in smarter and greener cities, not only for residents but also for tourists.
GOAL 12: RESPONSIBLE CONSUMPTION AND PRODUCTION
The tourism sector needs to adopt sustainable consumption and production (SCP) modes, accelerating the shift towards sustainability. It is imperative to identify key points of intervention within the tourism value chain to optimize the use of natural resources and reduce environmental impacts caused by production and consumption. Tools to monitor sustainable development impacts of tourism (as explicitly mentioned in Target 12.b) – including for energy, water, waste, biodiversity and job creation – will result in enhanced economic, social and environmental outcomes.
GOAL 13: CLIMATE ACTION
Tourism contributes to and is affected by climate change. Tourism stakeholders should play a leading role in the global response to climate change, both by implementing adaption and mitigation measures. By reducing its carbon footprint, primarily in the transport and accommodation industries, tourism can benefit from low carbon growth and help tackle one of the most pressing challenges of our time.
GOAL 14: LIFE BELOW WATER
Coastal and maritime tourism rely on healthy marine ecosystems. Thus, tourism development should be an integral part of the management of these environments, in order to help conserve and preserve fragile marine ecosystems and serve as a vehicle to promote a blue economy, contributing to the sustainable use of marine resources. In some destinations, marine resources are the main source of income, therefore their protection is crucial. The economic benefits of tourism in relation to life below water have been further solidified by the explicit mention of tourism in Target 14.7.
GOAL 15: LIFE ON LAND
Rich biodiversity and natural heritage are often the main reasons why tourists visit a destination. The sector is in a strategic position to foster an appreciation of local knowledge of biodiversity, establish clear links between biodiversity conservation and community health and welfare, and provide active actions that can be taken by tourism stakeholders to protect and restore life on land. Tourism can play a major role if sustainably managed in fragile zones, not only in conserving and preserving biodiversity, but also in generating revenue as an alternative livelihood to local communities.
GOAL 16: PEACE AND JUSTICE
As tourism revolves around billions of encounters between people of diverse cultural backgrounds, the sector can foster multicultural and interfaith tolerance and understanding, laying the foundation for more peaceful societies. Tourism can promote human rights and access to justice by supporting local communities and businesses that operate in an ethical and sustainable manner, creating a culture of respect for the rule of law and human rights. Well-planned and coordinated efforts are key to limit the negative impact that tourism activities may have on the public security of a destination.
GOAL 17: PARTNERSHIPS FOR THE GOALS
Due to its cross-sectoral nature, tourism can strengthen public-private-community partnerships and engage multiple stakeholders – international, national, regional and local – to work together to achieve the SDGs and other common goals. Public policy and innovative financing are at the core of achieving the 2030 Agenda. Tourism development contributes to all goals, not just for those involved in tourism, as the development of the sector can mandate a wider range of effects through diverse partnerships.