Africa: Tourism “inherently sensitive” to climate shocks, political unrest and the threat of pandemic

by MMC
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The President of the United Nations General Assembly on Tuesday highlighted the urgent need to promote sustainable and resilient tourism practices to protect the environment while continuing to benefit local economies.

Addressing a high-level meeting on tourism as part of the General Assembly first ever Sustainable Development WeekDennis Francis said it was a essential driver of economic growth and empowerment.

In 2023, the sector represented 3% of global gross domestic product (GDP), or $3.3 trillion, and employed one in ten people worldwide. For countries in special situations, such as small island states, tourism accounted for almost 35 percent of all export earnings and up to 80 percent of national exports.

“Despite the spectacular benefits reaped in its vast supply chains, tourism is also inherently susceptible to a multitude of disruptive forces – such as climate change, pandemics, acts of terrorism and domestic political instability,” said Mr Francis.


He raised concerns about the sector’s environmental and carbon footprint, saying sustainability must be paramount.

“We need a sustainable global tourism sector – a country with deep local value chains that increase demand for locally produced products and services in a way that also directly and positively benefits local communities,” he insisted.

Furthermore, he highlighted that the sector should also leverage digital technology to drive innovation and expand opportunities for employment and economic growth, particularly for women, youth and indigenous and local communities.