The Organization of American States (OAS) says it has collaborated with the United Nations World Trade Organization (UNWTO) in launching a seminal report on tourism in the Americas, including the Caribbean.
The OAS said on Friday that the first joint publication, “Tourism and the Sustainable Development Goals: Good Practices in the Americas”, highlights tourism as “a key element for achieving the sustainable development agenda in the hemisphere.”
The report also “encourages strengthening public-private partnerships at the local, national and international levels to face the challenges of sustainable tourism and presents recommendations focused on paying attention to tourism management,” according to the OAS.
It said the publication, launched within the framework of the 24th Inter-American Congress of Ministers and High Level Authorities of Tourism, held in Georgetown, Guyana, on March 21 and 22, under the theme “Connecting the Americas through Sustainable Tourism,” calls for more responsible management of the sector on which 8.5 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) and 10 percent of employment in the Americas depends.
The report states that it is “crucial to precisely define the role tourism should play in the sustainable development agenda of the region up to and beyond 2030.”
It also urges that attention be paid to the way in which tourism is managed, taking into account the mitigation of potential risks, such as the overcrowding of tourist destinations and the consequences of climate change.
With the emergence of a more responsible traveler, the report says destinations in the region should integrate resource efficiency and multi-stakeholder involvement in adopting policies, actions and initiatives.
The report says it is necessary to better understand how the sector can overcome current challenges and capitalize on opportunities, and how to measure the role of tourism in sustainable development, including its economic, environmental and social dimensions.
Through the study of 14 cases in Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Guatemala, Guyana, Honduras, Jamaica, Mexico, Panama, Peru, St. Kitts and Nevis, and the United States, the authors present a vision that integrates a multi-stakeholder approach to development of tourism, where governments, private sector, civil organizations and other stakeholders work in coalition to turn tourism into “a catalyst for inclusive and sustainable growth, protecting the environment and cultural heritage,” according to the OAS.
Ranging from tourism projects to strengthen the peace process in Colombia to initiatives in the heart of the Peruvian Amazon, through the participatory method adopted by local communities in Panama to promote green tourism, the 14 case studies describe how tourism can become “a central element to advance the (UN) Sustainable Development Goals in the Americas (SDGs), the OAS said.
Kim Osborne, the OAS executive secretary for Integral Development, said the joint initiative “provides greater awareness on how tourism can help address poverty alleviation, protect biodiversity and cultural heritage, and support community development in the Americas.”
He said the OAS is committed to supporting its member-countries in achieving the SDGs.
As the technical secretariat of the ministerial process of tourism of the Americas, Osborne said the OAS also seeks to provide “useful tools and resources, so that countries can achieve these goals with growth, equity and access to rights. in the area of tourism.”
“With more than 200 million international tourists who traveled to the Americas in 2017, tourism can and must play a significant role in delivering solutions for sustainable development in the region,” said UNWTO Secretary General, Zurab Pololikashvili.
“I am grateful for the partnership with the Organization of American States and am confident that together we will support tourism’s role in the sustainable development agenda of the region up to and beyond 2030,” he added.
Across the Americas and particularly in the Caribbean, the OAS said tourism is one of the main sources of employment, foreign direct investment and source of GDP.
It said the sector also improves livelihoods, promotes poverty reduction, enhances the protection of biodiversity and cultural heritage development, and helps build peace.