UN Tourism Ambassador

The United Nations World Trade Organization UNWTO has appointed Hello Kitty, a fictional character of Japanese creation as a special ambassador of the International Year of Sustainable Tourism Development 2017. This was arranged by the Secretary General of the UNWTO Dr. Taleb Rafai with Sanrio of Japan at the UNWTO Headquarters in Madrid on December 1, 2017.

The role of Hello Kitty will be to support UNWTO with its advocacy efforts in communicating the messages of the International Year 2017 as much a possible, as well as highlighting the role of tourism in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to the global audience. The Sanrio’s best fictional character Hello Kitty will advance the Year’s campaign; “ Travel. Enjoy. Respect”. In a video already shown at the Nartia Airport, Japan, inviting travelers to “Travel. Enjoy. Respect.” Kitty said “Travelling opens our minds and our hearts, and lets us see how we are equal.”

The United Nations during its 70th General Assembly designated the year 2017as the International Year of Sustainable Tourism Development. This is to raise awareness about the contribution of sustainable tourism to development and mobilizing all stakeholders to work together in making tourism a driving force for positive change that can contribute to the sustainable development goals.

In a separate development, the UNWTO and UNESCO under the global tourism and culture, held Tourism Ministers’ conference in Muscat, the capital of Oman, 11th to 12th December 2017 to discuss the relationship between tourism and culture. The event is being held in the framework of International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development 2017. This followed from the World Conference on Tourism and Culture held in 2015 in Siem Reap, Cambodia.

The Conference explored ways to build and strengthen the partnerships between Tourism and Culture in the framework of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the 17 Sustainable Development Goal (SDGs). A session of the Conference was the Ministerial Dialogue on Tourism, Culture and Sustainable Development that which addressed the policy and governance frameworks necessary to foster sustainable development models.

The promotion of cross-cultural exchanges and the safeguarding of tangible and intangible heritage were also assessed as a tool to enhance the contribution of Tourism and Culture to the 17 SDGs. A Special Dialogue session
was dedicated to Cultural Tourism as a Factor of Peace and Prosperity. Other areas for discussion are tourism management at World Heritage Sites, culture and tourism in urban development and creativity.

The UNWTO Secretary-General, Taleb Rifai said “Cultural tourism is growing, in popularity, in importance and in diversity embracing innovation and change. Yet, with growth comes increased responsibility, responsibility to protect our cultural and natural assets, the very foundation of our societies and our civilizations”.

According to the Assistant Director General for Culture, Francesco Bandarin ,”Tourism is a key resource for local communities and for heritage preservation. Heritage, tangible and intangible, is crucial to providing social stability and identity. Linking culture and tourism in the sustainable development process is vital if we are to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals”

Earlier in November this year from 16th to 18th of the month African leaders met in Lusaka Zambia to promote tourism as a tool for inclusive growth and community engagement and as a potential for poverty alleviation and economic transformation. The priority and attention being accorded tourism in recent times reveals the increasing prominence of the sector as a strong potential for economic transformation. According to UNWTO statistical data, the African continent had an increase of international arrivals of 8% in 2016, compared to the previous year.

The summit attended by more than 200 international and local participants, included technical workshops to revise strategies and approaches to sustainable tourism initiatives and to position tourism to lead policies and foster community engagement.

The World Tourism Organization (UNWTO, a United Nations specialized agency, is the leading international organization with the decisive and central role in promoting the development of responsible, sustainable and
universally accessible tourism. It serves as a global forum for tourism policy issues and a practical source of tourism know-how. Its membership includes 158 countries, 6 territories, 2 permanent observers and over 500
Affiliate Members.

Patrick Kpikpi
Tourism Marketing Consult
Blog: ghanahospitality.com

About the Author: patrick

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