World Tourism Day: The phenomenon of tourism is not new to this world, form the very initial stages of the civilizations on the earth, it is there but it is not termed as tourism in those days, the phenomenon is same but they have not understood it as a phenomenon of tourism because it was a nomadic society, if the phenomenon is observed, then it fits into the definition of tourism.

The movement of the people from one place to another place is in practice, but the purpose may be different at different times either for food gathering, hunting or entertainment etc. 

world tourism day

With the progress of the mankind on this earth different philosophies and principles have been slowly framed, inculcated and tested over a period of time by different social scientists. The phenomenon of tourism has to be studied and analysed as per the development and history of the different geographical regions, the development in the east and west is totally different.

In the ancient periods the people of west viewed it as a business, but in India one of the most famous forms of tourism is pilgrimage by helping pilgrims get food, accommodation and other basic necessities free of cost in this country and it is not considered as business. 

The history of the travel goes to two thousand years old. For the last two thousand years there have been so many leaps and bounds in the journey of tourism development, but in general one should understand that tourism has developed by and large increasing its expansion in the world by many folds.

It is obvious that the growing phenomenon always attracts the attention of many other allied sectors into its lap. As the phenomenon is growing some of the entrepreneurs entered into the industry and started their own business, in that one of the giants of tourism business is Thomas Cook and he expanded his business and became a greater part of the industry.

As an elongated process of this expansion so many trade organizations are formed and some of the industry organizations are also formed and finally United Nations formed it wing as UNWTO.  

Origin of World Tourism Day

The discussions and deliberations in the 3rd session of United Nations World Tourism Organization in the year 1979 have given birth to the idea of celebrating world tourism day.  As per the decision taken by the General Assembly in 1980 they have started celebrating World Tourism Day and they have an idea of choosing a host country also.

The first world tourism day was celebrated on September 27, 1980. The main reason behind selecting September 27 as a date of celebrating world tourism day is the fact that on this day and date the status of World Tourism Day was accorded. It is the day of converting IUOTO into United Nations World Tourism Organization and considered as important mile stone in the history of UNWTO, i.e., 27th September, 1970. 

History of World Tourism Day from 1980 Onwards

First time in the history of UNWTO the celebration of World Tourism Day has started from 27th September, 1980 onwards. Every year they have introduced a new theme and whole year the theme is given more importance in the industry across the world. In order to understand the importance of World Tourism Day and its themes the period of this celebration is classified into four parts. They are 

i.      Celebrations between 1980 to 1989 

ii.          Celebrations between 1990 to 1999 

iii.         Celebrations between 2000 to 2009

iv.         Celebrations between 2010 to 2017

A. First Phase of Celebrations (1980 to 1989)

Tourism is one of the most important industries in the world during this decade. The themes during this decade reflected the role of tourism in preservation of cultures and propagation of peace in the existing world. The importance given to cultural preservation of the past decades all round the world has laid a strong foundation for sustainable principles.

The importance of cultural understanding, universal brotherhood is also considered as an important role of tourism industry. As the travel fosters the movement of the people from their country of origin to destination region, it involves the interaction of host and guest population in the destination region, it leads to cultural exchange. This interaction should lead a friendly environment and helps in increase in the quality of life for both the parties. 

This interaction between good guest and good host should develop, so it is pride to the traveller and host community should also feel better satisfaction with their personal well being, community well being, emotional well being, health and safety.

It is a right of all the travellers to explore their ideas of visiting new places and thirst of travel needs should be satisfied but not at the cost of host community’s sentiments, environment, etc., and the hosts and guests should understand the aim of UN World Tourism Organization which is continuously disseminating the message to the tourism world regarding the need of the decade.

The balancing approach adopted by UNWTO is very convenient gesture for the sustenance of the industry catering to the interest of various stakeholders. In the later part they also emphasised the role of tourism in enhancing peace, prosperity, international understanding, friendship, heritage preservation, sustainable growth and expansion of tourism phenomenon.

The concluding years of these decades have given message to the world that the tourism should be instrumental in propagating education to all the people mainly in the third world countries. It should also help the stakeholders for their development and facilitate the movement of people across the world thus paving the way for the formation of one world. 

Table – 1. Theme of the year 1980 to 1989

Sl. NoYearTheme of the year
1WTD 1980Tourism’s contribution to the preservation of cultural heritage and to peace and mutual understanding
2WTD 1981Tourism and quality of life
3WTD 1982Pride in travel: good guests and good hosts
4WTD 1983Travel and holidays are a right but also a responsibility for all
5WTD 1984Tourism for international understanding, peace and cooperation
6WTD 1985Youth Tourism: cultural and historical heritage for peace and friendship
7WTD 1986Tourism: a vital force for world peace
8WTD 1987Tourism for development
9WTD 1988Tourism: education for all
10WTD 1989The free movement of tourists creates one world

B. Second Phase of Celebrations (1990 to 1999)

As per the classification given in this module, the second phase of World Tourism Day celebrations and their importance is explained.  This decade starting from 1990 to 1999 has shown remarkable growth of tourism activity across the world. As per the changing scenario of world’s travel and tourism industry UNWTO has been also presenting its themes to balance the development of the tourism in various facets.

The starting phase of this decade has given a message thorough “The Hague Declaration” that tourism should be recognized as a service industry.  In the same flow the importance of communication, information and education for the development of tourism is emphasized, mainly the message communicated is to bridge the gap between these three variables. 

Development of tourism by involving the usage of local resources provides good message to the host population and able to gain the faith of the native people, it is obvious that without the co-operation of the local population the future of tourism is in confusion and occasionally leads to negative impacts of the tourism industry.

Providing better human resources to serve the host population is given importance during the later phases. UNWTO completed 20 years of its journey by the end of 1995 and the theme of the year was “serving world tourism for twenty years”; it felt the role of tourism in promotion of tolerance among the various stake holders, creation of peace and tool for creation of employment and empowerment of communities.

The pre phase of economic liberalization has brought the model for the development of the region through economic investments by inviting Public-Private-Partnerships and concluded by spreading the message for heritage conservation in new millennium. 

Table – 2. Theme of the Year 1990 to 1999

Sl. No.YearTheme of the Year
1WTD 1990Tourism: an unrecognized industry, a service to be released (“The Hague Declaration on Tourism”)
2WTD 1991Communication, information and education: power lines of tourism development
3WTD 1992Tourism: a factor of growing social and economic solidarity and of encounter between people
4WTD 1993Tourism development and environmental protection: towards a lasting harmony
5WTD 1994Quality staff, quality tourism
6WTD 1995Serving world tourism for twenty years
7WTD 1996Tourism: a factor of tolerance and peace
8WTD 1997Tourism: a leading activity of the twenty-first century for job creation and environmental protection
9WTD 1998Public-Private Sector Partnership: The Key to Tourism Development and Promotion
10WTD 1999Tourism: Preserving World Heritage for the New Millennium

C. Third Phase of Celebrations (2000 to 2009)

The third phase of these celebrations started at the dawn of 21st century faced so many challenges before the industry and UNWTO has a very prominent role to play for the sustenance of the industry and well being of the human resources serving the host population. 

This phase started by overcoming the challenge of balancing technology and nature, these two important components are going to rule this decade. By moving a step ahead the theme was framed and propagated which was dependent on the host country. 

More emphasis is laid on the principles of eco-tourism and its importance in the creation of sustainable environment, contribution of carbon trading and reducing the amount of pollutants released by the tourism industry. Tourism is recognized as a tool for poverty alleviation and empowerment of marginalized communities mainly in the third world countries and it is also most important and viable option. 

The early part of this decade showed strong growth of tourism mainly in the third world countries which helped them in earning foreign exchange and by strengthening the economy of third world nations, tourism created jobs and economic multiplier effects on subsequent economy.

These is a greater ethical need that tourism should support the host country in providing good number of jobs, preserving their environment, life style, social harmony, etc. Tourism is increasingly recognized as contributing to social and economic development for host countries and local communities to combat unemployment by creating direct and indirect jobs. 

UNWTO took active part in the World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD) held in Johannesburg, South Africa, for advocacy of “Promoting Sustainable Tourism Development”. Almost every needy area of tourism is supported by declaring it as a theme of the year. 

The most interesting part of this decade in the history of tourism is to make the imaginary of 19th century turning into reality of 21st century. The themes of this decade concluded with the role of tourism for women empowerment, facilitating solo women travelers and challenges of climate change.  

Table – 3. Theme of the year 2000 to 2009 

Sl. No.Year Host Country Theme of the year 
1WTD 2000GermanyTechnology and Nature: Two Challenges for Tourism at the Dawn of the 21st Century
2WTD 2001IranTourism: A Tool for Peace and Dialogue among Civilizations
3WTD 2002Costa RicaEcotourism, the key to sustainable development
4WTD 2003Algeria 
5WTD 2004MalaysiaSport and tourism: two living forces for mutual understanding, culture and the development of societies
6WTD 2005QatarTravel and transport: from the imaginary of Jules Verne to the reality of the 21st century
7WTD 2006PortugalTourism Enriches
8WTD 2007Sri-LankaTourism Opens Doors for Women
9WTD 2008PeruTourism: Responding to the Challenge of Climate Change
10WTD 2009GhanaTourism – Celebrating Diversity
world tourism day

D. Fourth Phase of Celebrations (2010 to 2017)

World Tourism Day celebrations for this decade started from 2010 onwards and themes of the world tourism day up to 2017 are presented in table 4. The themes and the distribution of host countries for celebrations are allocated evenly across the world.

With the theme ‘tourism and biodiversity’ the organization has opened its thinking process towards the balancing act of the nature Themes are concentrated on importance of energy production and effective distribution is given a top priority for the sustainable growth of tourism industry and mainly it is very important among the island countries.

Tourism industry is most important economic drivers for island economy and energy is one of the important components of tourism industry to flourish which may be renewable or non renewable energy. The theme of the world tourism day highlights the use of energy source in a very legitimate manner.

The energy production with the help of oil is very volatile being very important to search an alternative source of energy production. This is an alarming problem related to the island economy. This is the responsive mechanic of WTO to find the solution for contemporary problems, which may create problems in a long run through the platform of World Tourism Day.  It is a coincidence that the theme of the World Tourism Organization and United Nations are almost same for the year 2013.

United Nations declared it as International Year of Water Co-operation and WTO’s theme is “Tourism and Water: Protecting our common future” With the session both of them have mentioned the importance of water as a common property of life on the earth.

Tourism industry reached a trillion dollar business in the present world and it is capable of finding effective solution for water scarcity.  On the occasion of World Tourism Day there is a greater appeal to various stake holders to find effective solution for accessing clean drinking water for hosts and guests.  Tourism also helps the local community to find the opportunities for their well being and empowerment.

It reflects the positive and pro-active view of UNWTO to promote tourism by encouraging 1 billion people to move from one destination to another by creating one billion opportunities. With the continuous growth of tourist arrivals across the countries created international understanding, universal harmony, preservation of culture and heritage.  The later part of this decade is characterized by promoting tourism for inaccessible and tool for sustainable development.

Table 4. Theme of the Year 2010 to 2017

Sl. NoYear Host Country Theme of the Year 
1WTD 2010ChinaTourism and Biodiversity
2WTD 2011EgyptTourism – Linking Cultures
3WTD 2012SpainTourism and Sustainable Energy: Powering Sustainable Development
4WTD 2013MaldivesTourism and Water : Protecting our Common Future
5WTD 2014MexicoTourism and Community Development
6WTD 2015Vietnam1 Billion  Tourist, 1 Billion  Opportunities
7WTD 2016ThailandTourism for all – Promoting Universal Accessibility
8WTD 2017QatarSustainable Tourism – A Tool for Development

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