Since taking office, the Secretary General of the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), Zurab Pololikashvili, has stressed his interest in promoting the incorporation of skilled workers into the tourism industry.
To this end, the UNWTO has worked with the International Labour Organization on the joint project “Employment and Decent Work in the Tourism Sector” – with the aim of creating a database to develop recommendations – and with the United Nations on the “Global Report on Women in Tourism”, which aims to improve the status and working conditions of women in the sector.
“Our sector gives them the opportunity to earn a living. And to earn not only a salary, but also dignity and equality,” she said during one of her speeches to emphasize that these jobs “also empower people and give them a chance to find their place in their own societies, often for the first time.
Thus, the theme of World Tourism Day 2019 focused on skills development and quality employment under the theme “Tourism and Employment: A Better Future for All”. In his official message, Polilkashvili highlighted the value of tourism as a “catalyst for equality and inclusion” and called for promoting the sector’s job creation potential.
Practically all the forums organized by the UNWTO have talked about job creation as the axis of growth and recovery in the sector. The World Forum on Gastronomic Tourism, held in San Sebastian in 2019, was directly linked to ODS 8, which promotes “sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all”.
And the message was deepened in the same year at the 23rd UNWTO General Assembly in St. Petersburg, coinciding with the Year of Employment and Education. Leaders and representatives from some one hundred countries engaged in an in-depth debate on the potential of tourism to be one of the main sources of employment at the global level.
These discussions revealed that there is a paradox in the tourism sector: while on the one hand it has highly skilled professionals, it also hosts a large number of workers who have difficulty finding employment elsewhere. And a second feature is that the world of work in tourism is not well known because reliable data is lacking. Only a few countries have significant statistics.
Participants concluded that it is vital for tourism to create sustainable and skilled employment. But this requires improved methods of statistical data collection to obtain reliable information on employment, occupational structure, qualifications, skills, working conditions, wages and remuneration in the sector.
Another UNWTO initiative, the World Tourism Students League, led by the UNWTO Academy, creates an innovative environment to train and motivate young people to become involved within the industry and gain real time experience by creating and presenting innovative solutions, in accordance with the Sustainable Development Goals.