Good Business | January 10, 2018

Harnessing tourism for the Global Goals

The team at


Tourism accounts for 10% of the world’s GDP and jobs.

The industry’s continued existence depends on safeguarding the world’s natural and cultural assets, which are threatened by the swelling ranks of world travelers. The number of jetsetters, currently at 1.2 billion, is expected to grow by 56% to 1.8 billion by 2030.

To address potential threats from tourism’s rapid growth, the U.N. World Tourism Organization is calling on the industry to play a bigger role in achieving the goals outlined in the 2030 Agenda.

In a survey of national progress towards meeting the Global Goals, the UNWTO found tourism-related efforts generally focused on three goals: №8: Decent Work and Economic Growth, №12: Responsible Consumption and Production, and №17: Partnerships for the Goals. But less attention was given to issues that impact tourism the most, such as climate change, the loss of biodiversity, natural disasters, regional and international security and global economic instability.

The key is to get the tourism industry to address sustainability issues more directly by focusing on SDGs that affect its business operations, such as №11: Sustainable Cities and Communities and, for coastal tourism centers, №14: Life Below Water.

“There is little awareness of the economic benefits of sustainability,” the UNWTO’s report states. “Investment in sustainable business operations can also significantly boost competitiveness and profitability, while increasing customer and host community satisfaction.”