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
Steve Noakes pp-presentation.