In any given year, I only pay close attention to specific dates such as family birthdays, my wedding anniversary, annual work-related deadlines, and maybe statutory holidays. Otherwise, most dates don’t resonate with me but perhaps some should.
For example, every September 27th is World Tourism Day, an observance set aside by the United Nations (UN) to promote awareness and action related to the global visitor economy. So, why should I care?
Notwithstanding that I earn a living from this vital sector, I spend most days advocating for tourism’s rightful place within the social, economic, cultural, and environmental fabric of British Columbia, and am deeply convicted of its importance to our province, country, and world.
In its Tourism Day manifesto, the UN notes that tourism employs one in every 10 people on earth and provides livelihoods to hundreds of millions more. It also serves as a first entry point to the world of work, especially for women, youth, migrant workers, and rural populations in developing and least developed countries (LDCs). Women represent a majority of the tourism sector workforce, while half of that workforce is under 25 years of age.
Moreover, in many parts of the world, the protection of biodiversity and conservation rely heavily on the tourism sector and the revenue it generates. In fact, the UN calls tourism an essential pillar of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and a catalyst for meeting goals with respect to decent work and economic growth, responsible consumption and production, as well as life below water, among others.
As most people acknowledge, tourism allows us to experience some of the world’s cultural and natural riches and brings people closer to each other, highlighting our common humanity and understanding of diverse cultures and practices.
And as proven over the course of the pandemic, we are also a resilient sector with a bright future contingent on addressing some major challenges including, but not limited to, climate change and sustainability, reconciliation, diversity, equity and inclusion, and myriad issues at a more granular level.
Contrary to what TIABC does for Tourism Week in Canada at the end of May each year, we are not planning any major initiatives for next Tuesday given multiple pressing priorities and time constraints. At the same time, we encourage you to take some time to acknowledge fellow members, colleagues, and stakeholders for their dedication and valuable contribution to our industry and province.
Even more importantly, let’s together ponder ways we can leverage the skills, knowledge, experience, and determination we have as tourism professionals to make our communities and province a better place, and help chart a course to a brighter future for generations to come.
For the record, September 27th is now a place marker in my brain to recognize and celebrate World Tourism Day annually. Now if I could only remember when Valentine’s Day is each year.
PS: On a related note…stay tuned for a special edition of our newsletter next Thursday to recognize National Truth & Reconciliation Day, which is on September 30th.