The progressive increase in tourism across multiple areas around the world has become evident during the past few years. Something that might have been an unusual practice about 40 or 50 years ago is nowadays, particularly with the development of technology and communications, an everyday event. This is probably why Ban Ki-moon, Secretary-General of the United Nations, said that “tourism has become a powerful transformative force improving millions of lives”. This statement is backed by the World Tourism Organization, which states the international demand in this sector has maintained sustained growth for seven years, Asia-Pacific is ahead in this growth with 8%, followed by Africa with the same 8% increase, greater than America and Europe, and with an encouraging 4% growth in the Caribbean region.
The economic significance acquired by this activity in Latin American countries, and around the world, has scaled up to represent 10% of the global GDP, while one in eleven jobs are in the tourism sector. However, it remains unclear if companies, workers and tourists understand the challenges to overcome in order to turn tourism into a positive practice for everyone and our planet. This is probably why the United Nations declared 2017 as the International Year of Sustainable Tourism. But what does sustainable tourism mean? According to the United Nations, sustainable tourism requires successful management not only from the wealth generation perspective, but also from social inclusion, employment and poverty reduction, effective use of resources and environmental protection, as well as the promotion of cultural values in every region; diversity and heritage, and the promotion of a culture of peace and safety.
In this context, where 2017 is the International Year of Sustainable Tourism, our selection last month as one of the recipients of the UNWTO Awards for Excellence and Innovation in Tourism gives me great pride, and it confirms our commitment show through Fundación Tropicalia, through which we include micro and small enterprises in the supply chain for our undertaking in the Dominican Republic: Tropicalia.
Fundación Tropicalia was created in 2008 to design and implement programs for the Tropicalia project’s neighboring communities in the areas of education, environment, productivity, and wellbeing and culture.
Ever since we devised the Tropicalia project over a decade ago, we did it believing that it is possible to promote this activity with environmental responsibility, promoting the wellbeing of our workers, and being in harmony with communities surrounding the tourism project. In the link below you can read the review of the project undertaken by Fundación Tropicalia and the touching experience of the awards ceremony.
It’s up to every one of us to raise greater awareness and improve practices, from the tourist, entrepreneur, and worker perspectives. We must go beyond the physical and territorial aspects in tourism, transforming it into a more pleasurable and positive comprehensive activity for all stakeholders, with greater understanding of every new environment we set out to explore.