|Tourism and Community Development was the key theme of the 2014 World Tourism Day (WTD), celebrated every year on 27 September. Sponsored by the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO), WTD is an annual global observance to highlight tourism’s social, cultural, political and economic value.
WTD 2014 was held under the theme Tourism and Community Development - focusing on the ability of tourism to empower people and provide them with skills to achieve change in their local communities.
This theme was captured in an address to the annual Lapland Tourism Parliament symposium held at the Rovaniemi campus of Lapland University of Applied Science on 25 September 2014.
Steve Noakes, MTI Visiting Professor in Sustainable Tourism, addressed the symposium on the subject of sustainable tourism and destination management, drawing upon his extensive experiences in tourism enterprises and international projects designed to improve the livelihoods of in the developing economies of Asia and the Pacific.
He noted how ecotourism enterprises in Indonesia have contributed to biodiversity conservation and improving the livelihoods of local people in remote areas on the vast nation of over 17,000 islands.
Having just spent the previous month in Myanmar (Burma), he also illustrated a current sustainable tourism project in this rapidly developing country which aims to bring net benefits to poorer local communities. This can occur from tourist expenditure at a local guest house or local market which results in contributing to a value chain that creates jobs, provides livelihoods, empowers local communities, and can ultimately bring in new opportunities for a better future.
"Myanmar is opening up to the world, and tourism investment and visitor demand for the country is growing quite fast from a small base", explained Noakes. "As the nation experiences significant political, social and economic reform it has recognized that new socio-economic opportunities can come from effective planning and management of sustainable approaches to tourism development. The ultimate aim is to achieve better livelihoods for communities throughout the country while at the same time as minimizing damages to any values and the cultures of host communities and the biodiversity within the country."
Professor Johan Edelheim, Director at the Multidimensional Tourism Institute within the Lapland University Consortium echoed the message from the UNWTO that tourism "is a people-based economic activity built on social interaction, and as such can only prosper if it engages the local population by contributing to social values such as participation, education and enhanced local governance".
Steve Noakes pp-presentation.