Countdown to close of IY2017: The end is just the beginning

Countdown to close of IY2017: The end is just the beginning

‘Twas just days before Christmas, and all around the world,
travelers were making their way to loved ones in an excited, sometimes anxious blur.
Passengers release their suitcases at check-in desks with care,
In hopes that their gifts and goodies would also get there…


The end of 2017 is nigh. As is the end of IY2017, the United Nation’s International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development. For almost 365 days now, the global UN, and Tourism community, has been focused on embedding the role of Tourism as a critical vehicle for sustainable development – raising and empowering the global baseline for the benefit of all. Importantly, “sustainability” was not purely about the protecting, preserving and promoting the environment. It was also about ensuring strength and sustainability of economies, cultures and societies, through Tourism, unlocking the sector’s power to be a force for good at a time when our shared world so dearly and clearly needs understanding, respect, unity and peace.

In terms of the practical work to be done alongside the principles, the year had specific objectives, championed by the UNWTO, to:

• Raise awareness on the contribution of sustainable tourism to development,

• Mobilize all stakeholders in making the sector a catalyst for positive change, and

• Foster change in policies, business practices and consumer behavior in tourism.

Timing has been everything. As perfectly stated by His Excellency Antonio Guterres, SG of the United Nations, and the opening of this year’s UN General Assembly in September in NYC,:

“We are a world in pieces. We need to be a world at peace.”

It is this year that has raised the volume of voices around the truism that it is Tourism that is bringing people of different places, different cultures, different ideologies together to find the basis for a shared future. Our world needs Tourism.

Over the past year, CNN International, Global Media Partner for IY2017, has put the spotlight on the importance of these 365 days of keeping Tourism in the headlines of leaders, decision makers, and travelers. But as we all know, the story of IY2017 does not end as the clock strikes midnight on January 1, 2018.


As is often said, the end is in fact the beginning. Such must be the case for IY2017. The past year of global UN leadership of the power of Tourism has been one inspiring remarkable results, mobilizing people, places, partners and programs through a shared, simple belief that now is the time for Tourism to bring our world together, for all.

The results of the UNWTO’s championing of IY2017 is best showcased through the following video – a “must see” for all inside, and outside, the sector:

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Clearly, we cannot allow the impact and inspiration of IY2017 to fade.

Which is why at the UN’s Official Closing Ceremony of IY2017, held this past week at the magnificent Palais des Nations in Geneva, the vision for sustaining the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development was revealed.

As stated by Dr. Taleb Rifai, Secretary General of the UNWTO, (also counting down to the end of the year, at which time he leaves office following eight years of exemplary UNWTO leadership):

“2017, the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development, has been a unique opportunity for all of us to come together to promote the contribution of tourism to shape a better future for people and planet and to contribute to making this world a better place. We count on you as we embark on this exciting new ‘Journey Towards 2030’. I trust that together, as a sector, as people with the same vision and commitment, we will go far.”

Why 2030?

Because it is 2030 that stands tall as a firm milestone for global advancement: the UN’s 2030 Agenda:

“This Agenda is a plan of action for people, planet and prosperity. It also seeks to strengthen universal peace in larger freedom. We recognize that eradicating poverty in all its forms and dimensions, including extreme poverty, is the greatest global challenge and an indispensable requirement for sustainable development.”

Why does this matter for global travelers?

Because it is the enduring love, need, appreciation and actions of the worldwide travel community that will directly drive the ability of the global community to achieve the UN Sustainable Development Goals, every day, everywhere.

And so, in 2018, may we all resolve to keep traveling, keep enjoying, and keep respecting, #TRAVELENJOYRESPECT , keeping our world stronger, safer and more proudly and widely shared.

Happy travels to all, and to all a good flight…

Created for CNN’s TASK Group by Anita Mendiratta © all rights reserved.

eTN is a partner with the CNN TASK Group.