The UN General Assembly president underscored the importance of sustainable tourism during a side event held Friday on the sidelines of the ongoing High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF).
“As one of the fastest-growing sectors, tourism accounts for one in every 10 jobs worldwide. Its capacity to attract investment and rapidly increase exports has made it a vital catalyst for development,” said Csaba Korosi, president of the 77th session of the General Assembly.
“In many small countries, small islands developing states, it represents nearly 30% of GDP and a whopping 80% of export revenues. It is safe to say that for many, tourism translates to survival,” he said.
However, over the years, tourism’s consumption of energy, land, and water has only increased, followed by significant growth of carbon emissions and waste generated by tourism, which, in turn, has created pressure on fragile ecosystems and led to the loss of precious biodiversity, according to the official.
“Worse, these dire consequences are often borne by host communities — particularly Indigenous peoples, who have preserved most of the Earth’s forests, grasslands, and other environments for centuries,” he said.
He called on countries to foster a regenerative approach that rebalances tourism’s relationship with nature, to ensure that tourism respects the cultural traditions of host countries and host communities. And to guarantee that its operations provide economic benefits for all stakeholders.
“We face complex crises demanding that we radically transform the way we think and act: how we produce, use, and preserve. This is as true for tourism as it is for every sector, large and small, from North to South, from East to West,” he added.