Message by UNWTO Secretary-General Taleb Rifai:
Tourism has experienced a revolution in the past 50 years. In 1950 there were 25 million international tourists; today there are around 1.2 billion people travelling the world. Travelling has become a huge part of many lives.
When travelling, we come across new people, new sights, and new ideas. Often our perception of the world changes as we see more of it. However, we must not forget that for many, travelling can be quite a difficult process.
15% of the world’s population is estimated to live with some form of disability. That is 1 billion people around the world who may be unable to enjoy the privilege of knowing other cultures, experience nature at its fullest and experience the thrill of embarking on a journey to explore new sights.
Accessibility for all should be at the center of tourism policies and business strategies not only as a human right, but also as a great market opportunity.
With the world’s population ageing, all of us will benefit sooner or later from universal accessibility in tourism.
As we celebrate World Tourism Day, let us recall that all of the world’s citizens have the right to experience the incredible diversity this planet has to offer.
We thus urge all countries and destinations, as well as the industry, to promote accessibility for all in the physical environment, in transport systems, in public facilities and services and in information and communications channels.
I wish you a very happy World Tourism Day and a future full of enriching and compelling travel experiences to be enjoyed by all.
Thank you very much!