This is the first time that Thailand is the host venue of the official World Tourism Day, which this year celebrates its 36th year. This event is an initiative of the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), the United Nations agency which promotes responsible, sustainable and accessible tourism. The Day is aimed at fostering awareness of the social, cultural, political and economic value of tourism to nations.
The World Tourism Day 2016 celebrations in Thailand will be celebrated from 26 to 29 September, 2016, and promote Thailand’s tourism industry to the 157 member countries of the UNWTO as well as top tourism executives from around the world.
The events will begin on 26 September, 2016 with a media workshop under the topic of “The Role of Media in Advocating Universal Accessibility” at the Faculty of Arts, Chulalongkorn University. On 27 September, 2016 at the Siam Kempinski Hotel in Bangkok, a number of seminars as well as exhibitions will be highlighted under the theme of “Tourism for All – Promoting Universal Accessibility,” followed with the Official World Tourism Day 2016 Celebration in the afternoon.
There will be site visits to attractions in Bangkok, such as Arts of the Kingdom Museum at the Ananta Samakhom Throne Hall, Wat Pho, as well as receptions at Siam Niramit Cultural Theatre, and National Museum. A technical visit to Khon Kaen will showcase the warm hospitality as well as the unique culture of the North-eastern of Thailand.
In a special message, Mr. Ban Ki-moon, United Nations Secretary-General said, “With almost 1.2 billion people travelling abroad each year, tourism has become a powerful economic sector, a passport to prosperity and peace, and a transformative force improving millions of lives.
“Everyone has the right to access leisure and tourism services on an equal basis. Yet one billion people around the world living with disability, along with young children, seniors and persons with other access requirements, still face obstacles in accessing fundamentals of travel such as clear and reliable information, efficient transportation and public services, and a physical environment that is easy to navigate. Even with modern technologies, those with visual, hearing, mobility or cognitive impairments are being left behind in many tourism destinations.”
Mr. Ban added, “Accessibility is both an important market opportunity and central to responsible and sustainable tourism policies and business development strategies. I encourage policy makers, destination planners and companies working with people with special needs to work together to remove all barriers, mental and physical, to travel. On this World Tourism Day, let us recognize that all people can and should be able to participate in tourism and enjoy unforgettable travel experiences.”
In his message, Mr. Taleb Rifai, UNWTO Secretary-General said, “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.”
He added, “Accessibility for all should be at the centre 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.”
The theme of the World Tourism Day 2016 is universal accessibility and ensuring that everyone, be they disabled; senior citizens or people trying to travel with young children can enjoy the benefits of tourism. Many people face obstacles when it comes to travel, accessing information, transportation and public services or simply navigating a physical environment. Sustainable and responsible tourism should ensure that companies and governments work with people who have needs to remove barriers to travel. This ensures that everyone can have unforgettable travel experiences.
Mrs. Kobkarn Wattanavrangkul, Thailand’s Minister of Tourism and Sprots said, “Tourism is vital and at the heart of forging friendships, creating a better understanding between each other and it connects people to people, hearts to hearts. At the same time, tourism is also a key economic development strategy and a catalyst for the growth of the country, while at the same time tourism is also a significant contributor to job creation and then provides an opportunity to work with people in local communities. For this year’s theme, “Tourism for All – Promoting Universal Accessibility”, it is indeed a challenge for Thailand and the world to recognize the necessity of accessibility in the world of tourism and to accommodate everyone everywhere they may travel to, and we feel that it is time for us to turn our attention to accessibility for all and the message must be, all are welcome.”
Mr. Yuthasak Supasorn, Governor of the Tourism Authority of Thailand said, “Thailand is very proud of the attractions, scenic destinations, cultural and culinary experiences that we can offer visitors and this year, we’re on target to attract over 30 million visitors making us one of the biggest tourist nations in the world. So it seems fitting that Bangkok has been chosen to host World Tourism Day, and we hope this year’s theme will encourage everyone in Thai tourism to work together to find ways to make our nation more accessible than ever, to anyone who wants to enjoy its charms.”