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UNWTO launches ‘Tourism Opens Minds’ initiative to counter over-tourism and boost global discovery

  • UNWTO 1
  • Mr. Zurab Pololikashvili, Secretary-General of the UNWTO.
  • His Excellency Ahmed Al-Khateeb, Minister of Tourism of Saudi Arabia.

UNWTO’s ‘Tourism Opens Minds’ aims to recalibrate tourism strategies, promoting diversification and cultural enrichment. The initiative addresses the industry’s urgent need to balance visitor distribution and enrich the travel landscape.

SINGAPORE – On World Tourism Day (WTD), the UNWTO revealed its global campaign, ‘Tourism Opens Minds’, in a universal pledge to address the challenges faced by the tourism sector. This global initiative presents an opportunity to rediscover the way people travel and encourage tourists to venture into a wider range of destinations, to open their minds and hearts to places they haven’t previously imagined visiting.

According to YouGov, almost two-thirds of people globally are prioritising travelling to places that their friends and families have already been to, fuelling over-tourism in certain locations and leaving other destinations broadly undiscovered. In APAC, more than 50% of respondents have travelled to destinations that their friends and family have yet to explore and a significant majority – exceeding 70% of these travellers – shared that they often come back with a broadened perspective after travelling to a new place.

In Australia, while 58% favour familiar destinations, 91% do find new places enriching and broaden their cultural understanding. While Japan sees 67% preferring familiar spots, 66% shared their appreciation of the mind-opening aspects of new travels. In South Korea, even though 85% favour travelling to familiar places, 82% agree that venturing to news destinations do help them to gain cultural insights and awareness. Meanwhile, in Malaysia, while 79% lean towards familiar places, yet an impressive 96% find new experiences enlightening, bringing a deeper understanding of diverse cultures.
As a global call to invest in undiscovered destinations, Mr. Zurab Pololikashvili, Secretary-General of the UNWTO, launched the ‘Tourism Opens Minds’ initiative during the WTD conference.

To ensure true global prosperity, we must work together to ensure that every country can harness the potential of a thriving tourism industry. The sector serves as a unifying force, fostering cultural understanding, strengthening bonds between societies, and championing environmental preservation,” said Mr. Zurab Pololikashvili. “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.”

His Excellency Ahmed Al-Khateeb, Minister of Tourism of Saudi Arabia said, “We are honoured to have been able to witness the launch of this pioneering initiative at World Tourism Day 2023 here in Riyadh. Tourism is a driving force in bridging cultures and fostering mutual understanding, leading to a more peaceful and harmonious world. This initiative has the full support of Saudi Arabia, and we look forward to collaborating with the international community and moving in harmony towards a new horizon for global tourism.”

The universal pledge aims to support and encourage tourists to explore new horizons, enrich their travel experiences and diversify the industry. This will eventually result in creating a positive economic and social impact on local communities as it unlocks the true essence that tourism plays in bridging cultures and creating a truly inclusive world.

UNWTO member states, business leaders and tourism experts at the WTD conference hailed the announcement which was a testament to the industry’s commitment to connect people, cultures, business, and communities.

Leaders from across the global tourism sector had convened in Riyadh for this year’s UNWTO WTD, which was celebrated from 27th – 28th September. Through a range of impactful events, global ministers, industry leaders and experts have highlighted the power of tourism and uncovered avenues for collaboration to foster growth of the sector, placing people, the planet and prosperity at the helm.

George Diamantopoulos
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George, in his capacity as an intern, diligently oversees the flow of news, assists in the publication of content, and delves into the strategies of social media distribution. He is currently pursuing his studies in Business Administration at the Athens University of Economics and Business.