International tourist arrivals worldwide have grown from 25 million in 1950 to nearly 1.3 billion today. Similarly, international tourism revenues earned by destinations around the world have grown from 2 billion US dollars in 1950 to 1260 trillion in 2015. The sector represents an estimated 10 per cent of the world’s GDP and 1 in 10 jobs globally.
The UN World Tourism Organization expects that tourism will continue to grow at an average of 3 per cent annually until 2030. This growth reflects the progressive expansion of access to tourism thanks to the decline in the price of transport, especially air transport, and growing middle classes worldwide. The recognition of the right to holidays in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and the improved adoption of labour rights in many countries, have also supported the coming of age of tourism. These factors also serve as a backdrop for the resilience shown by tourism in recent years. The sector has experienced almost uninterrupted growth despite challenges such as the global economic crisis, natural disasters and pandemics.
Many people around celebrate the United Nations’ World Tourism Day, which is on September 27 each year. The day aims to foster awareness among the international community of the importance of tourism and its social, cultural, political and economic values. World Tourism Day recognizes the importance of tourists and the tourism industry across the globe.
The United Nations’ World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) invites people worldwide to participate in World Tourism Day on September 27 every year. Many tourism enterprises and organizations, as well as government agencies with a special interest in tourism, celebrate the event with various special events and festivities.
Different types of competitions, such as photo competitions promoting tourism, as well as tourism award presentations in areas such as ecotourism, are held on World Tourism Day. Other activities include free entries, discounts or special offers for the general public to any site of tourism interest. Government and community leaders, as tourism business representatives, may make public announcements or offer special tours or fares to promote both their region. Tourism has experienced continued growth and deeper diversification to become one of the fastest growing economic sectors in the world. Modern tourism is closely linked to development and includes more new destinations for tourists. These dynamics turned tourism into a key driver for socio-economic progress. Tourism has become one of the major players in international commerce, and represents at the same time one of the main income sources for many developing countries.
The UNWTO decided in late September 1979 to institute World Tourism Day, which was first celebrated on September 27, 1980. September 27 was chosen as the date for World Tourism Day because that date coincided with an important milestone in world tourism: the anniversary of the adoption of the UNWTO Statutes on September 27, 1970.
The UNWTO believes that the date for World Tourism Day is appropriate because it comes at the end of the high tourist season in the northern hemisphere and the start of the tourist season in the southern hemisphere, when tourism is of topical interest to many people worldwide, particularly travelers and those working in the tourism sector. Each year has a different theme – for example, “Tourism – Celebrating Diversity” was designated as the theme for 2009, with Ghana as the event’s host country for that year.