Following is UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s message, delivered by Wu Hongbo, Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs, to the first-ever World Conference on Tourism for Development: “Tourism for Peace and Development”, in Beijing today:

I am delighted to greet all the participants of the first World Conference on Tourism for Development. I thank the Government of the People’s Republic of China for hosting this inaugural conference with the World Tourism Organization.

This is the first high-level international meeting on tourism and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the universal, integrated and transformative agenda that aims to spur actions that end poverty and build a more sustainable world over the next 15 years. Three of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) — Goal 8 on promoting growth and decent work, SDG 12 on sustainable consumption and production, and SDG 14 on the conservation of marine resources — have targets that specifically relate to tourism.

But, tourism cuts across so many different areas of life and involves so many different economic sectors and sociocultural currents that it is connected to the entire agenda. As we begin implementation, this is a crucial moment for you, the leaders of the tourism sector, to commit to this universal agenda for people and planet.

Tourism has immense capacity to generate growth for all nations and it has proven resilient in the face of external shocks. In many least developed countries, tourism is among the top three sources of foreign exchange earnings. It is a highly effective way for many of the world’s poorest countries to take a more active part in the global economy.

When tourism is well-managed, it has tremendous capacity to create decent jobs, provide opportunities for inclusion and education, and contribute to preserving cultural heritage and the environment. Tourism also has an important role in building cross-cultural understanding and fostering peace between highly diverse communities.

Every day, more than 3 million tourists cross borders around the world. Each of them is a potential ambassador to another culture. Tourism can build bridges, dismantle preconceptions and encourage tolerance and curiosity, instead of ignorance and bias.

As we prepare to celebrate 2017 as the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development, I encourage you to make the best possible use of tourism to build a safer, more inclusive, more prosperous and sustainable world. I wish you a fruitful and productive conference.

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