This year’s World Tourism Day celebrates the unique role that tourism plays in providing opportunities outside of big cities and preserving cultural and natural heritage all around the world. Under the theme “Tourism and Rural Development”, this year’s international day comes at a critical moment, as countries around the world look to revive their tourism industry, including in rural communities where the sector is a leading employer and economic pillar.
But how can ISO bring clarity and contribute to this development?
ISO has a number of International Standards that serve as important tools to help key players in the tourism industry. These include standards developed by ISO technical committee ISO/TC 228, Tourism and related services. With more than 30 standards under its belt, the committee works to improve tourist services in such areas as protected natural environments, sustainable management systems for accommodation facilities as well as adventure and industrial tourism.
According to the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), “Tourism and Rural Development” is more relevant than ever as the global tourism sector faces up to the COVID-19 pandemic. These communities are usually much less prepared to deal with the short- and longer-term impacts of the crisis. This is due to a number of factors, including their ageing populations, lower income levels and the continuing “digital divide”. Tourism offers a solution to all of these challenges.
Natalia Ortiz de Zárate, Committee Manager of ISO/TC 228, explains: “World Tourism Day is the day to draw attention to how tourism can improve our world. It also empowers rural communities, with a potential to create jobs and opportunities for all those in need. ISO standards play a key role. Together, we can keep the rural communities alive!”
For the first time in the 40-year history of World Tourism Day, the official celebration will not be hosted by a single Member State of the United Nations specialized agency. Instead, nations from the Mercosur bloc (Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay, with Chile joining with observer status) will serve as joint hosts. This co-hosting agreement exemplifies the spirit of international solidarity that runs through tourism and which UNWTO has recognized as essential for recovery.