According to the report, tourism is one of the most promising drivers of growth for the worldeconomy and, with the appropriate investment, cancontinue to grow steadily over the coming decades,contributing to much-needed economic growth,employment and development while mitigating itsenvironmental impacts. Investment in green tourism would stimulate jobcreation, especially in poorer communities, withincreased local hiring and sourcing and a positive spill-over effect on other areas of the economy. The direct economic contribution of tourism to local communities would also be increased;maximising the amount of tourist spending that isretained by the local economy. Finally, a green tourismeconomy would ensure significant environmentalbenefits including reductions in water consumption,energy use and CO2emissions.Given tourism's sheer size and reach, even smallchanges towards greening can have significantimpacts. But to drive these actions, the sector needsthe right policies and the right investment. INVESTING IN TOURISM FOR AGREENER AND FAIRER ECONOMYGovernments, and the international community atlarge, have a key role to play in the move towards greentourism, namely through establishing sound regulatoryframeworks, facilitating public investment andincentivising private engagement. This is of particularimportance to development given the opportunitiesgenerated by tourism for developing countries. A well-designed policy framework will drive greenTOURISM105A green economy is one that results in "improvedhuman well-being and reduced inequalities over the long term, while not exposing futuregenerations to significant environmental risks andecological scarcities" (United Nations EnvironmentProgramme (UNEP)) and represents a decisive steptowards sustainability. Tourism, far from being locked in a zero-sum gamewith climate change, can be a lead agent in thetransformation to the green economy. THE ECONOMIC CONTRIBUTION OFTOURISM TO LOCAL COMMUNITIESAt the beginning of 2011, the Green Economy Report- a ground breaking UN study, led by UNEP, on how tospur a green transformation while ensuring continuedgrowth - identified tourism as one of ten economicsectors key to greening the global economy.UN Photo/Robaton ?
economic activity by enabling and encouraging theprivate sector, local and foreign, and tourists torespond to sustainability issues. It is up to governments to prevent unsustainablepractices, create minimum standards and provideincentives for green investment. Decreasing the cost ofrenewable energies should be pursued and adequatelegislation on energy management and buildingsperformance is required.Yet perhaps the single greatest limiting factor forgreening tourism is lack of access to capital,particularly for Small and Medium Enterprises, whichrepresent the bulk of the sector. Public financing isessential for jumpstarting the green economictransformation. Governments and internationalorganisations can facilitate the financial flow to thetourism sector by prioritising investment and spendingin areas that stimulate greening. Subsidies and taxincentives are just some of the tools that governmentscan employ. Through public-private partnerships,governments can help to spread the costs and risks oflarge green tourism investments. At the same time, government spending on publicgoods such as protected areas, water conservation,waste management, sanitation, public transport and renewable energy infrastructure can reduce the cost of green investments by the private sector ingreen tourism. CONCLUSIONThe tourism sector can be a lead change agent in the transformation to the green economy. It is an economic sector that can significantly increasehuman wellbeing and social equity, while reducing106TOURISMUN Photo/Eskinder Debebe Above:Tourism can aiddevelopment in areassuch as DarfurLeft:Tourists flock tounique destinations suchas rainforestsRight:Tourism hasbecome increasinglyimportant in countriessuch as Kenyaenvironmental risks and ecological scarcities. As a result, there should be no trade-off betweentourism growth and environmental sustainability.Greening the growing tourism sector in factstrengthens its capacity to generate economic growth,jobs and development worldwide. For this to happen, a set of enabling conditions must be put in place and governments, leading groupslike the G8 and the international community at large,have a particularly important role to play indetermining the way forward. Political commitment,investment and support from governments around theworld will not only generate significant returns, but willalso position countries better within the new greeneconomy paradigm. nABOUT THE AUTHORDr Taleb Rifai was elected Secretary-General of theUNWTO on May 12, 2009. Prior to that, he wasDeputy Secretary-General of the UNWTO and, from1999 to 2003, the Jordanian Minister of Tourism andAntiquities. His other posts included that of theDirector of Jordan's Economic Mission toWashington, the Director-General of the JordanianInvestment Promotion Corporation and the Chairmanof the Jordan Tourism Board. Dr Rifai also served asthe Minister of Planning and InternationalCooperation from 1995 to 1997, when he wasactively involved in policy making and developinginvestment strategies. He was responsible for founding Jordan's firstArchaeological Park in the ancient city of Petra, incollaboration with UNESCO and the World Bank, andother projects in Jerash, the Dead Sea and Wadi Rum. UN Photo/Albert Gonzalez Farran