The United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) has started a new global initiative to unite and encourage nations, tourism sector leaders and consumers to be more open-minded when choosing a travel destination.
Announced during the World Tourism Day celebrations in Saudi Arabia, ‘Tourism Opens Minds’ will showcase the role that tourism plays in bridging cultures and promoting a more interconnected and harmonious world.
To mark the launch, delegates who gathered in Riyadh were presented with a special pledge calling on them to actively work to promote new and under-appreciated destinations.
New data from UNWTO underscored the sector’s recovery from the impacts of the pandemic. At the same time, however, research suggests that only a minority of tourists intend to seek out new or different destinations as they start travelling again.
According the UNWTO World Tourism Barometer, global tourism is on track to recover between 80–95 per cent international arrival numbers by the end of 2023.
However, a recent YouGov survey found that 66 per cent of tourists believe that travelling to a place that provides familiarity is important. Just under half of respondents feel uncomfortable travelling to places they know little about. This is despite the fact that, of those that do travel to new destinations, 83 per cent agree that they come back with a changed or broadened perspective.
The data shows that initiatives, such as ‘Tourism Open Minds’, could encourage consumers to diversify their travel habits.
UNWTO Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashvili, said: “The ‘Tourism Opens Minds’ initiative extends a compelling invitation for travellers to broaden their horizons and explore the uncharted corners of our world. By doing so, it not only reveals the beauty of diverse destinations but also nurtures an appreciation for the cultures and people who call these places home.”
The initiative also aims at allowing government officials, sector leaders and consumers help to mitigate the impacts of overtourism, foster mutual understanding, conserve the environment and ensure equitable growth of the sector.