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World Tourism Day is a date that, beyond a celebration, deserves a deep reflection on what this social phenomenon represents, about its present and the challenges it faces in the future.

How can we celebrate when we see that almost three years after the start of the Covid-19 pandemic – which represented the biggest crisis in the history of the sector – its social and economic effects are still present?

Given this scenario, the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) calls for “Rethinking tourism”, emphasizing the fact that we all have a shared responsibility to ensure its full recovery, from the workers in the tourism sector to the workers themselves, tourists, as well as small businesses, large corporations and governments. The purpose, says the UNWTO leader, is that “we reflect and rethink what we do and how we do it.”

In this sense, I say that, although it is time to pave the way for tourism to recover and generate growth and opportunities, it is also important that the benefits derived from this activity permeate to the local inhabitants of the region. Because, tell me, why do we do tourism if it is not to improve the quality of life of all those who are part of the sector? And one of the main actions, I insist, would be to improve jobs and, therefore, the quality of life of workers and their families.

Another approach that occurs to me on this date is to identify the visitor we want for our tourist destinations and go for them, of course; although for this it is important that we ask ourselves what type of tourist we want in our tourist destinations. Do we want a tourist who is only looking for sun and beach, eating and drinking without great pretensions and who in the long run becomes a predator of natural resources? Or, do we want a tourist who is socially responsible and careful with the environment, who leaves more money in the place he visits than the previous one? I think the answer is clear.

However, to reach this type of tourist, it is important to “rethink” the promotion strategies that we are carrying out, and improve our tourism product as much as possible, “change the chip” towards sustainable tourism, which is playing a very positive role in the recovery process of destinations.

We must remember that, during this 2022, international tourism figures have doubled compared to 2021 and that many destinations have reached, and even exceeded, pre-pandemic figures. We are, therefore, facing a crucial moment for the sector and for its consideration as a crucial pillar of development and progress.

Finally, I would like to emphasize that it is important that all levels, both the Government, the Private sector and local communities, are on the same page, focused on the real recovery of the sector, around a more sustainable, inclusive and resilient.

What do you think? Send me your comments.

marcmurphy@hotmail.com

THE DATA

Since 1980, World Tourism Day has been celebrated on September 27 each year. The date marks the anniversary of the adoption, in 1970, of the Statutes of the Organization that paved the way for the creation of the UNWTO five years later.

This year it will be the Republic of Indonesia that will host the official celebration on September 27, although all Member States of the World Tourism Organization, as well as non-members and stakeholders from across the private sector, are invited to organize their own celebrations and promote this day and its main theme.

By Marc Murphy

Editors Notes: guest blogger Marc Murphy is a Mexico resident (Montreal born) who’s been at the table around Mexico tourism marketing for over twenty years. Most recently he was Executive Director for the Riviera Nayarit Tourism Board and today does tourism consulting.

This article is highly relevant for those exploring Mexico for living. However you define “tourism”, there’s no doubt that foreign-born residents of Mexico are important factors in Mexico’s international image. We do “ground truthing” about the realities of Mexico for living, and share the truths and myths around the world. We also consume vacation travel with friends and visiting family. The question I raise is “Can foreign-born retirement tourism contribute to a better future for tourism workers?”