Worldwide, September 27 of every year is commemorated as World Tourism Day. This practice kick-started since 1980 by the United Nations World Tourism Organisation [UNWTO], is to annually take stock of what was done in the outgoing year and what to expect in the coming one.The purpose of this day is to raise awareness of the role of tourism within the international community and to demonstrate how it affects social, cultural, political and economic values worldwide.
The theme of the day was “sustainable tourism”, in 2017. In 2018 the theme is “Tourism and the Digital Transformation”.
Late Ignatius Amaduwa Atigbi, a Nigerian national, was the one who proposed the idea of celebrating September 27 of every year as ‘World Tourism Day’ and was recognised and honoured eventually for his great idea at the 2009 International World Tourism Day celebration in Accra, Ghana.
Meanwhile, World Tourism Day 2018 was observed in Budapest, Hungary yesterday with the official celebration focusing on the digital transformation in tourism, a World Tourism Organization [UNWTO] priority. The event examined how investment in new technology provides the sector with opportunities for innovation.
Introducing a new seminar-based format, the official celebration provided crucial insights into the actors and initiatives leading the digital transformation of the tourism sector and aimed at providing participants with concrete and actionable objectives to take away.
During the official celebration, the 20 semi-finalists of the 1st UNWTO Tourism Startup Competition gave pitches to investors and tourism leaders of their innovative projects with the potential to disrupt the sector. They were selected from over 3000 applicants from 132 countries. The competition was launched by UNWTO and Spanish tourism leader Globalia to find projects that harness innovation and can change the way we travel.
“UNWTO is proud to have positioned, for the first time, tourism in the global innovation agenda – where it deserves to be because of its economic weight and importance. This is only possible by bringing the private and public sectors together in a meaningful way, and providing opportunities to share ideas, like we have done today”, said UNWTO Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashvili to conclude the event.
Pololikashvili was joined for the opening ceremony by Hungary’s Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Csaba Domotor and Gloria Guevara, President, and CEO of the World Travel and Tourism Council, who emphasized the role of technological solutions such as biometric data capture in ensuring safe, seamless and sustainable travel.
Key amongst the conference conclusions was that political support is central to putting tourism at the centre of the global innovation and digital agenda. The event harboured this sentiment, attracting the participation of ministers from several countries and high-level political representatives at all levels of government, from local to national, as well as tourism’s main entrepreneurs, investors, and innovators.
Other World Tourism Day celebrations also took place worldwide today, helping to mark the 38th year the observance day that has taken place to give visibility to the tourism sector’s role in international economic growth and development.
Sadly, no activity was organized by the Federal Ministry of Information, Culture and Tourism and so also was the Nigerian Tourism Development Corporation [NTDC], apex government tourism agency that the man who proposed the celebration worldwide once headed.
By Lucky Onoriode George