Sustainable tourism — bringing global awareness to travel and putting it into action — is a top priority for the United Nations this year. The organization has designated 2017 as the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development.
There were nearly 1.2 billion international travelers in 2015, up from 674 million in 2000, according to the United Nations. The latest figure represents nearly one out of seven people in the world and is expected to grow to 1.8 billion people by 2030.
This rapid increase of tourists is exactly why sustainable tourism needs attention now, said Taleb Rifai, the secretary general of the World Tourism Organization, the United Nations agency overseeing the initiative. “The impact of tourism on the world can be negative or positive, and our goal is to see to it that the travel industry is a force for good,” he said.
According to the U.N.W.T.O., sustainable tourism has three guiding principles for hotels, tour operators, airlines and cruises (as well as destinations and tourists): environmentally friendly practices like minimizing the use of plastic; protecting natural and cultural heritage (think rain forests and historic sites); and supporting local communities by employing local staff, buying local products and engaging in charity work.
Granted, these aren’t novel ideas, but they are ever-evolving. Here is a snapshot of where sustainable travel stands today and what’s in store for it in the coming year.
This is an excerpt from an article published originally on The New York Times by Shivani Vora. To read the full article, visit Where Sustainable Travel Is Headed in 2017.