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One billion tourists, one billion choices

According to the UN’s World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), one billion tourists will have travelled the world in 2012, marking a new record for international tourism – a sector that accounts for one in every 12 jobs worldwide, 9% of global GDP and 30% of the world’s services exports. Its impact is even more great in developing nations such as Thailand.

To mark the occasion, UNWTO has been running a campaign named “One Billion Tourists: One Billion Opportunities” to highlight the actions tourists can take to ensure their trips benefit the people and places they visit, and allowed the public to vote for the most popular measures.

UNWTO Infographic

The winning tip, revealed today, 13 December, the date symbolically chosen to mark the milestone of the one-billionth tourist, was Buy Local, encouraging tourists to buy food and souvenirs locally, or hire local guides, to ensure their spending translates into jobs and income for host communities. A close second, Respect Local Culture calls on tourists to learn more about their destination’s traditions, or some words in the local language, before leaving home.

“Today, we welcome the symbolic arrival of the one-billionth tourist” said UNWTO Secretary-General, Taleb Rifai. “Your actions count. That is our message to the one billion tourists. Through the right actions and choices, each tourist represents an opportunity for a fairer, more inclusive and more sustainable future.

Every time you visit a new culture, continued Mr Rifai, you can choose to “support the local economy and help to sustain the jobs of waiters, tour guides and many more working in tourism, as well as of all those whose jobs are indirectly linked to tourism such as taxi drivers, food producers or shop attendees. If we multiply this impact by one billion, we begin to understand the enormous significance of reaching this milestone.”

As a local Krabi travel agent, who actively promotes this philosophy, we have to agree with Mr Rifai! You can make a difference – start on your next journey.

More about the UNWTO campaign