Young people must be active participants as we rethink and restart tourism – English version

Young people have always been an integral part of tourism. Countless destinations, in all parts of the world, depend on it to sustain businesses and livelihoods, and the return of young travelers as the world opens up again brings hope to many millions. At the same time, young people also make up a significant proportion of the tourism workforce. Indeed, our sector is one of the leading providers of youth empowerment, providing opportunities for everyone, regardless of background or educational achievement.

UNWTO recognizes the importance of youth. For this reason, empowering young people, including providing education and training opportunities as well as access to decent jobs, is one of our top priorities. But we are committed to going even further. Young people must not only be the beneficiaries of the revival of tourism, but they must also be active players in it. Now is the time to make the voices of young people heard as we make big decisions that will chart the course of our sector for years to come.

The first UNWTO Global Youth Tourism Summit confirmed that young talent is here. The same goes for the determination to make a difference. For a week in Italy, we brought together some of the brightest young minds, to hear their concerns, but above all, their vision of the sector. This was a historic first – for young people, for UNWTO and for the tourism sector as a whole. This put young people in the driver’s seat. And it gave them a unique opportunity to engage directly with industry leaders, including business leaders and tourism ministers.

Young people must not only be the beneficiaries of the restart of tourism, but they must also be active players in it

Out of the week came Sorrento’s Call to Action, a call for young participants to have more of a say in decisions that will affect them, whether as tourists themselves or as beneficiaries of the sector. Although signed only by the delegates present in Sorrento, it is a true representation of the determination of the world’s youth to no longer be left behind. It also outlines priorities for the next generation of tourists and tourism leaders to accelerate the transition to greater sustainability, including through the development and promotion of green transport, for greater inclusion and respect for human rights, and finally ensuring that the benefits of tourism are enjoyed as widely and fairly as possible.

To realize these ideas and ambitions, young people must have a seat at the decision-making table. Youth-led organizations should be encouraged to monitor and evaluate tourism development and, if necessary, be able to hold governments and businesses to account.

Every part of the vast global tourism ecosystem will benefit immensely from embracing the power of youth. Today, the planet is home to an estimated 1.8 billion people between the ages of 10 and 24, the largest generation of young people in human history. Almost 90% of them live in developing countries and in many of them they constitute the majority of the population. This is where they can make the biggest difference, and tourism is arguably the most powerful vehicle for driving transformation and growth.

As World Tourism Day 2022 makes clear in its theme, we now have an opportunity to rethink tourism – where we are and where we are going. Young people must be active protagonists in this vital process. The climate action movement has shown what can be achieved if young people speak up. Here, young activists have helped set the agenda and pushed governments to raise their ambitions. Tourism must now do the same and UNWTO is ready to lead by example.

Source: UNWTO

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Last modification: July 9, 2022

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