The United Nations General Assembly has adopted by consensus at its 65th session three separate resolutions emphasizing the role of tourism in sustainable development. The three resolutions, on the implementation of the Global Code of Ethics for Tourism, on the promotion of ecotourism, and on the importance of sustainable tourism for Small Island Developing States stress the significance of the sector to the development agenda in terms of sustainability, employment, and poverty elimination. The resolutions further welcomed the efforts and work of the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) in promoting sustainable tourism for poverty eradication.
The Global Code of Ethics for Tourism – Promoting Sustainable and Responsible Development
The resolution on the Global Code of Ethics for Tourism welcomed the work of UNWTO, of its World Committee on Tourism Ethics, and the increasing level of institutional and legal commitment by member states towards the implementation of the code.
The resolution recognized the need to promote the development of sustainable tourism and increase the benefits from tourism for host communities, while maintaining their cultural and environmental integrity and enhancing the protection of ecologically-sensitive areas and natural heritages. Likewise, it recognized the need to promote the development of sustainable tourism and address the challenges of climate change and halt the loss of biodiversity.
The resolution further reiterated the invitation to the member states and other tourism stakeholders that have not yet done so, in particular the private sector, to integrate the principles of the Global Code of Ethics for Tourism in their relevant legislation, professional practices, and codes of conduct.
The resolution encouraged UNWTO, through its World Committee on Tourism Ethics and its permanent secretariat in Italy, to continue to promote and disseminate the code, and it invited the UN member states and other stakeholders to support the activities undertaken by UNWTO for the promotion of responsible and sustainable tourism.
The resolution on the Global Code of Ethics for Tourism encapsulated the results of the General Assembly’s consideration of a report by UNWTO and was sponsored by 32 countries, with Honduras as the lead sponsor. Other countries sponsoring the resolution included Costa Rica, Comoros, Djibouti, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Fiji, Finland, Gabon, Gambia, Guatemala, Haiti, Hungary, Indonesia, Italy, Jordan, Lebanon, Luxembourg, Mexico, Monaco, Montenegro, Morocco, Pakistan, Peru, Republic of Korea, Serbia, Seychelles, Slovenia, Solomon Islands, Spain, Thailand, and Ukraine.
Promoting Ecotourism for Poverty Eradication and Environmental Protection
The resolution on the “promotion of ecotourism for poverty eradication and environmental protection,” led by Morocco and supported by 90 countries, recognized that ecotourism can have positive impacts on income generation, job creation, education, and thus on the fight against poverty and hunger and can contribute directly to achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).
Further, it recognized that ecotourism creates significant opportunities for conservation, protection, and sustainable use of natural areas by encouraging local and indigenous communities in host countries and tourists alike to preserve and respect natural and cultural heritage.
In adopting the resolution, the UN General Assembly encouraged its member states to promote investment in ecotourism and called upon the United Nations system to promote ecotourism in the context of MDGs as an instrument that can contribute to achieving those goals, in particular to eradicate extreme poverty and ensure environmental sustainability.
Tourism Contributing to Advance Development in Small Island Developing States (SIDS)
The “Outcome document of the High-level Review Meeting on the implementation of the Mauritius Strategy for the Further Implementation of the Program of Action for the Sustainable Development of Small Island Developing States,” held on September 24 and 25, 2010, identified tourism as one of the major areas of development endeavor for the sustainable development of SIDS.
In this framework, the General Assembly resolution on sustainable development in SIDS rrecognized that for most of SIDS, tourism is an important contributor to employment, foreign exchange earning, and economic growth. It also noted that climate change, along with other sources of environmental degradation, could have an adverse impact on the sustainability of tourism in SIDS. Accordingly, the High-level Review Meeting of the General Assembly called on UNWTO, other relevant UN agencies, and stakeholders to support the development and implementation by SIDS of measures to promote sustainable tourism.