World Tourism : An engine for employment creation and economic stimulus

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The tourism industry continues to be amongst the most dynamic economic sectors, generating a wide range of benefits including a growing contribution to GDP, in some cases over 10%, and substantial foreign exchange earnings. Tourism as a reliable tool for sustainable job creation was at the centre of the 5th UNWTO International Conference on Tourism Statistics ( Bali, Indonesia, 30 March-2 April), with 450 participants from 70 countries and nine international organizations.

Tourism plays a crucial role in the creation of employment, which is especially important during the current economic crisis. The key challenges are to establish sustainable policies to enhance both the quantity and quality of employment in the tourism industry.

Participants in the Conference underscored the importance of public-private cooperation, particularly in the framework of advancing the Decent Work Agenda promoted by the International Labour Organization (ILO, a key partner of UNWTO within the UN family). In this regard it was agreed to both protect and promote the Tourism Satellite Account (TSA) as a powerful brand which should be carefully developed and applied for the measurement of tourism’s contribution to developed and developing economies alike.

UNWTO’s Secretary-General ad interim Taleb Rifai said that “It’s crucial that we offer technical assistance to our Member States to enable them to measure how many jobs tourism generates in the economy, tourism’s contribution to GDP, and tourism’s ranking in comparison with other sectors of the economy”.

The International Conference on Tourism Statistics coincided with the efforts of the G20, meeting in London , UK , to stimulate the global economy. The TSA further underscores the potential of tourism and travel in any stimulus package and the shift towards a green economy, as stated in an open message by UNWTO to the G20.

Against this background, Mr. Rifai added that “In many countries, tourism has suffered from a lack of political and popular support because its true economic significance has often been underestimated. Now there is increasing awareness of tourism’s role as a productive activity and its potential to generate employment, government income and other benefits whether directly or through induced effects in the economy. This is increasingly important due to the role tourism can play in combating the current crisis.”

The Conference was jointly organized by UNWTO and the Ministry of Culture and Tourism of the Republic of Indonesia , with the support of the UN Statistics Division (UNSD), the Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA), the ILO and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).

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