Tourism has been one of the hardest hit of all sectors affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Restrictions on travel and a sudden drop in consumer demand have led to an unprecedented fall in international tourism numbers. World Tourism Day is celebrated on September 27 across the world. Tourism has the capacity to unite people, which will play an important role in global cooperation in fighting job losses due to the pandemic.
The theme of World Tourism Day 2020 is ‘Tourism and Rural Development’, as tourism is a leading provider of employment and opportunities in a number of rural communities around the world. World Tourism Day 2020 is an opportunity to recognize the potential of tourism in building a better future for all. It is estimated that 68% of the world population will live in urban areas, while 80% of those currently living in ‘extreme poverty’ live outside of towns and cities by 2050.
In the history of 40 years, the official celebration of World Tourism Day will not be done by a single member state of the United Nations specialized agency. Instead, nations from the MERCOSUR member states will be the joint hosts. This is being done to show the spirit of international unity that is imbibed in tourism.
The tourism crisis is also a threat to wildlife conservation programs and to the protection of the world’s cultural heritage. The sudden fall in tourism revenues has cut off funding for biodiversity conservation. With livelihoods at risk in and around protected areas, cases of poaching and looting are expected to rise. With 90% of World Heritages Sites closed as a result of the pandemic, humanity’s cultural heritage is at risk in all parts of the world.