World Tourism Day is celebrated every year on 27th September, the anniversary of one of the most significant milestones in the history of world tourism, when the Statutes of the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) were adopted.
Tourism is an industry which is growing almost exponentially, particularly in Asia and the Middle East. Europe is still the most popular continent among tourists, welcoming nearly 500 million in 2010.
This year, the theme is ‘one billion tourists, one billion opportunities’, celebrating the important milestone of the one billionth tourist, who travelled in 2012. The theme is intended to make us think about the opportunities that this number of tourists presents to local and global economies, as well as the challenges this presents.
Tourism is important to many countries’ economies and, in the case of many LEDCs, it can be of vital importance. Tourism can help towards the improvement of a country’s infrastructure, including roads and other transport links, health care and sanitation. The money spent by tourists can also be invested in local services, such as education. Tourism can also provide employment for local people and can even be used to educate visitors regarding local ecosystems and the importance of environmental awareness.
Unfortunately, tourism can also bring its challenges for local communities. In some cases where foreign companies are involved, profits go directly to them, rather than being invested back into the local community. Jobs may also go to foreign workers, particularly the higher-skilled, higher-paid jobs and property prices can soar, pricing out locals. Another danger is that, rather than educating visitors, tourism can bring in extra pollution and can destroy habitats, causing havoc in the local ecosystems.
This World Tourism Day, why not hold a debate with your class about the pros and cons of tourism? Perhaps you could compare the impacts on LEDCs and MEDCs or, if your area or somewhere near you is a tourism spot, why not encourage your students to think about how the local area benefits from this and what challenges it presents?
We also have some exciting school geography trips that offer the opportunity to focus on tourism in the local area, including trips to Barcelona and the Costa Brava, Naples and Sorrento, and even destinations further afield, such as the Masai Mara in Kenya.
For further information on these, or any of our other school geography trips, please do not hesitate to contact us.