Tourism & Sustainable Energy: Powering Sustainable Development

World Tourism Day 2012: Tourism & Sustainable Energy: Powering Sustainable Development

World Tourism Day 2012: Tourism & Sustainable Energy: Powering Sustainable Development

World Tourism Day (WTD) 2012 is being held under the theme Tourism & Sustainable Energy: Powering Sustainable Development. Official celebrations will take place in Maspalomas, Spain (Sept 27).

This year’s theme aims to highlight tourism’s role in a brighter energy future; a future in which the world’s entire population has access to modern, efficient and affordable energy services.

Tourism, one of the world’s largest economic sectors, has already taken important steps towards this future – improving energy efficiency and increasingly using renewable energy technologies in its operations. These steps are creating jobs, lifting people out of poverty and helping to protect the planet.   

Be part of World Tourism Day 2012! Take part in the photo competition, go to online energy school, let us know how you will be celebrating and keep checking back for more information on WTD activities and celebrations.

Ban Ki-moon, UN Secreatry-General

The Rio+20 United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development emphasized that well-designed and well-managed tourism can make a significant contribution to the economic, social and environmental dimensions of sustainable development.  One of the world’s largest economic sectors, tourism is especially well-placed to promote environmental sustainability, green growth and our struggle against climate change through its relationship with energy.

“Tourism and Sustainable Energy: Powering Sustainable Development” is the theme of this year’s World Tourism Day, selected to advance the goals of the 2012 International Year of Sustainable Energy for All.  Hundreds of millions of people around the world depend for income on this energy-intensive sector.  Sustainable energy will allow tourism to continue to expand while mitigating its impact on the environment.  

Many in the tourism industry have already shown leadership in developing and deploying clean energy solutions, cutting energy consumption and carbon emissions in some regions by up to 40 per cent through initiatives such as the Hotel Energy Solutions toolkit developed by the UN World Tourism Organization and the UN Environment Programme.  Other concrete advances include the growing use of energy-efficient fuels in air travel, sustainable procurement strategies and increasingly popular carbon offsetting schemes.  

Everyone has a role in sustainable tourism.  I commend the tourism community for its growing commitment to sustainable energy.  I also thank the tourists who play their part by off-setting their own carbon emissions, choosing ecologically friendly destinations and providers, or simply by postponing having their towels laundered.  Every action counts.  This year, one billion international tourists will travel to foreign destinations.  Imagine what one act multiplied by one billion can do.

On this World Tourism Day, I appeal to all who work in and enjoy the benefits of this global sector to join in building a more sustainable future for all.

Message by the UNWTO Secretary-General, Taleb Rifai

As part of UNWTO’s ongoing efforts to forge tourism’s contribution to sustainable development, World Tourism Day 2012 will be celebrated around the theme Tourism & Sustainable Energy: Powering Sustainable Development.

Tourism is leading the way in some of the world’s most innovative sustainable energy initiatives. Energy efficient upgrades to aircraft, the shift to renewable fuel for aviation and cruise liners, energy technology solutions in hotels, as well as countless other initiatives are placing tourism at the forefront of the clean energy transformation.     

These initiatives not only help to protect the environment, they also play a part in ending ‘energy poverty’, an ill being addressed by the 2012 United Nations International Year of Sustainable Energy for All, which aims to ensure universal energy access, significantly improve rates of energy efficiency and double the share of renewable energy in the global energy mix by 2030.      

Sustainable energy initiatives in tourism are creating economic opportunities and jobs for millions, whether in tourism, energy or other sectors. As UNWTO findings show, the return on investment in sustainable energy can be enormous, enabling tourism businesses to grow and create jobs. At the same time, tourism infrastructure in developing countries is helping to bring modern energy services to some of the world’s most vulnerable communities.  

With international tourist arrivals reaching one billion in 2012, more must be done to guarantee a brighter energy future. Destinations and companies must accelerate their transition to low-emission technologies and embrace existing opportunities to leapfrog conventional options in favor of more sustainable energy solutions. 

As we celebrate World Tourism Day 2012, I urge all tourism stakeholders – governments, businesses and tourists themselves – to play their part in reaching the UN goal of achieving sustainable energy for all by 2030 and position tourism at the center of the clean energy economies of the future.

Message by the Minister of Industry, Energy and Tourism of Spain, José Manuel Soria López

On behalf of the Government of Spain, I wish to express our great pleasure to be hosting World Tourism Day in 2012 and at having been chosen on the basis of our status as a force in world tourism and as pioneers in renewable energy sources such as solar photovoltaics, in which we are number one in the world, and wind power, where we are number two.

This selection to host an event of such great interest elicits a strong sense of commitment on our part to ensuring that this forum—an opportunity to meet and reflect—enjoys a high level of success commensurate to the importance of the celebration. We are convinced that it will be a good occasion to share our experience and knowledge in two fields, tourism and sustainability, that are very important for the development and well-being of our peoples.

For our Government, the tourism sector constitutes a real priority because it is an important asset for the creation of wealth and employment, and ultimately, for our economic recovery. Tourism accounts for 10.2% of GDP and 11% of jobs, and performs with great dynamism and strength even in times of crisis. We are therefore designing a Comprehensive Tourism Plan with the consensus and involvement of all actors, both public and private, that will foster a more favourable environment for the development and consolidation of the tourism sector.

We are also very happy to have the UNWTO’s headquarters in Madrid, which makes for very fluid and fruitful collaboration that, I am convinced, will continue for a long time to come. Cooperation is key in order to emerge from this deep crisis, and our relationship with the UNWTO is a good example in this regard.

Lastly, I wish to welcome you to our country, where I hope you will also have some time to enjoy our considerable natural and cultural heritage. We are very excited about the celebration of WTD on 27 September, which we have organized in collaboration with the UNWTO in San Bartolomé de Tirajana, Gran Canaria. It is our hope that this date will constitute another step towards the recognition of the tourism sector's crucial economic and social contribution and the importance of renewable energy for social, economic and environmental sustainability.