World Tourism Day
annually on September 27th (since 1980)
As the cost of transportation has gone down, labor rights have increased, and the global middle class has grown, there has been greater access to tourism. Tourism is an important economic sector, with one in every ten people being employed in it, and it makes up more than 20 percent of the GDP in some countries. Tourism lets people enjoy and experience the world's cultural and natural richness, and it illuminates shared humanity. Because of this, the General Assembly of the World Tourism Organization (WTO)—now known as the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), to distinguish it from the World Trade Organization—created World Tourism Day in September 1979 at their third session in Torremolinos, Spain.
September 27 was chosen as the date for World Tourism Day because it was on that date in 1970 that the UNWTO Statutes were adopted, which led to the organization's founding in 1975. World Tourism Day celebrates and promotes tourism, and "foster[s] awareness among the global community of tourism’s social, cultural, political and economic value and the contribution the sector can make in reaching the Sustainable Development Goals." First observed in 1980, there is a different theme each year, with activities being organized that are centered around the theme. The first two themes were "Tourism's contribution to the preservation of the cultural heritage and to peace and mutual understanding" and "Tourism and the quality of life." The theme of 2020 was "Tourism and Rural Development," and the theme of 2022 was "Rethinking Tourism."
According to some sources, the day was first proposed by Ignatius Amaduwa Atigbi in 1971, at an executive meeting of the International Union of Official Travel Organization (IUOTO), in Istanbul, Turkey. (The IUOTO later became the WTO, and then the UNWTO.) Atigbi was the head of the Nigerian and African delegation to the meeting, as well as the Secretary General of the Nigeria Tourist Association and Chairman of the African Travel Commission. Because of his efforts, he later became known as Mr. World Tourism Day.
How to Observe World Tourism Day
A few ideas on how to observe the day include:
- Find information about this year's observance, including the theme, event listings, and suggestions on how to celebrate, as well as information about past observances, on the UNWTO's World Tourism Day website.
- Pick up a book about tourism or travel and plant the seeds of wanderlust in your mind.
- Travel to one of the world's best destinations.
- Learn more about the UNWTO.