2022 has been the year to rethink tourism.
Countries around the world turned UNWTO’s vision for a greener, smarter and more inclusive sector into real action.
- 2020 showed the relevance of tourism for sustainable development.
- 2021 laid the foundations for the transformation of the sector.
- In 2022, we made it happen.
2022 began on a positive note. Data from UNWTO showed that tourism was cautiously taking off, and that it needed to be rethought. The UN amplified UNWTO’s global advocacy for tourism’s role in recovery. UNWTO partnered with sister agencies like WHO for example, around joint warnings that “Blanket Travel Restrictions Don’t Work".
Advancing common UN goals, UNWTO and WHO called for the lifting of travel bans and agreed to collaborate on a global trust architecture for the recovery of travel. While leaders committed to join UNWTO to build a social and environmentally sustainable tourism, February ended with UNWTO leading the voice of tourism for peace and solidarity in response to the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
UNWTO data continued to reflect the promising start of tourism in 2022. This month, UNWTO released New Guidelines Put Women’s Empowerment at Heart of Tourism’s Restart, and announced the launch of the second edition of Best Tourism Villages by UNWTO to promote rural development through tourism.
Meeting for the first ever extraordinary UNWTO General Assembly against the backdrop of the Russian invasion in Ukraine, UNWTO Members voted to suspend Russia from Membership. Reinforcing the Global Goals, UNWTO launched the “Awake Tourism Challenge” for startups. The Glasgow Declaration kept growing since its launch at COP26 and surpassed 500 signatories to take climate action through tourism.
A landmark moment: UNWTO and tourism reached the top of the UN agenda: the first ever UN General Assembly High-Level Debate on Sustainable Tourism in New York, fueling immediate actions and reverberating during the rest of the year. Other May highlights include upgrading SMEs with the Digital Futures programme, and strengthening consumers’ rights with more countries adhering to the International Code for the Protection of Tourists.
Facing up to uncertainty, tourism kept on growing, as reported by the UNWTO World Tourism Barometer. This set the backdrop for the 116 UNWTO Executive Council (Jeddah, Saudi Arabia). UNWTO successfully advocated for tourism action at the UN Ocean Conference (Lisbon, Portugal), ahead of the biggest event on tourism and youth.
Youth empowerment is a UNWTO priority. The first Global Youth Tourism Summit gathered young people from 57 countries to be part of tourism’s decisions, as reflected in the Sorrento Call to Action. That same month, the UN Secretary-General's Progress report on SDGs drew on UNWTO’s statistical work to track tourism’s role in driving growth.
International tourism continued reporting positive, recording 250 million international arrivals during the first five months of 2022. This set the backdrop ahead of World Tourism Day 2022 and its theme Rethinking Tourism.
27 September, World Tourism Day emphasized the sector’s unique potential to drive recovery and deliver positive change for people everywhere. This followed the G20 Tourism Working Group meeting in Bali, where UNWTO presented the G20 Bali Guidelines for SMEs. Looking at the progress since the start of the year, tourism was back to 60% of pre-pandemic levels.
A busy month also saw UNWTO advancing tourism and rural development at the 6th Wine Conference on Wine Tourism (Alba, Italy), and promoting education in tourism with the launch of the first national competition of UNWTO Students’ League in Switzerland.
Sustainability and the green transformation of tourism took centre stage in October as the UNWTO International Network of Tourism Observatories (INSTO) welcomed more members, and Ministers agreed to advance circularity and climate action in Pan European tourism.
Tourism was transformed at the UNWTO Ministers’ Summit, the most successful edition to date with delegates joining UNWTO’s vision to rethink tourism. UNWTO made the case for tourism in COP27, where it represented over 700 signatories of the Glasgow Declaration advancing a NetZero sector. This was followed by new data showing arrivals reached 63% of pre-pandemic levels during January-September 2022. This set the framework for the 117 UNWTO Executive Council (Marrakesh, Morocco).
Rural development, inclusivity and sustainability led conversations at the 7th World Forum on Gastronomy Tourism. Winners of Best Tourism Villages and Students League wrapped up 2022 with their solutions to boost rural development through tourism. In 2023 we look forward, making the shift from rethinking to transforming the sector around key priorities: jobs and training, education and youth development, and sustainability and innovation. With UNWTO as tourism's voice at the global level, including at the UN General Assembly, the sector has never been more relevant - nor more needed.