2017 declared as the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development

On a local and global level, tourism is essential for sustainable development. Maintaining this industry is key to supporting our economy.

United Nations 2015 Sustainable Development Goals
United Nations 2015 Sustainable Development Goals

Tourism continues to be accepted and pursued as a solution to mitigate poverty around the world. Countries, especially those in developing world, see tourism as a tool for sustainable development. 

In late 2015, the United Nations General Assembly approved 2017 to be the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development.

Defining sustainable tourism can be challenging. What does it mean exactly? Sustainable tourism describes the use of tourism to support economies without disrupting local cultures and the ecological foundation that the industry and/or activities are founded on.

The U.N.’s decision, as stated by the United Nations World Tourism Organization Secretary-General, Taleb Rifai, to declare 2017 as the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development is “a unique opportunity to advance the contribution of the tourism sector to the three pillars of sustainability – economic, social and environmental, while raising awareness of the true dimensions of a sector which is often undervalued.”

He also added that:

“As the lead U.N. agency for this initiative, UNWTO is very much looking forward to proceeding with the organization and implementation of the International Year, in collaboration with Governments, relevant organizations of the U.N. system, other international and regional organizations and all other relevant stakeholders.”

Tourism is a component of goals outlined in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which were approved by the U.N. General Assembly in September 2015. Goals 8, 12 and 14 specifically address tourism:

  • Goal 8. Promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all
  • Goal 12. Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns
  • Goal 14. Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development

Additional resources are available to learn more about tourism and the sustainable development goals.

Globally, tourism accounts for 1 in 11 jobs, $1.5 trillion in exports and 6 percent of the world’s exports. In Michigan, we received 113.4 million visitors in 2014, which helps sustain the 214,000 jobs in the industry annually. All of the tourism activity in Michigan generates approximately $2.4 billion in state and local taxes. In the absence of these taxes, each household in Michigan would have to pay $640 to fill the gap. More information on these statistics can be found in the Michigan State University Extension article, International tourism continues to climb without interruptions.

Tourism in Michigan is essential to our development as a state, and sustaining this industry is imperative to our revitalization and resiliency to future challenges.

MSU Extension works with local communities throughout the state to identify strengths and assets to leverage for tourism.

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