Qatar won the right to host the official World Tourism Day (WTD) 2017 celebrations, which will be held under the theme, ‘Sustainable Tourism – a Tool for Development’.

The announcement was made following a vote of the 21st United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) General Assembly held in the Colombian city of Medellin.

Celebrated annually on September 27, WTD is the biggest international event in tourism. It aims to foster awareness among the global community on the importance of tourism and its social, cultural, political and economic value.

The event, held in a different continent each year, seeks to address the global challenges outlined in the UN Millennium Development Goals and Sustainable Development Goals and to highlight the tourism sector´s contribution to achieving them.

“Qatar's tourism sector is among the fastest growing globally. Our National Tourism Sector Strategy outlines an ambitious path of development through 2030,” Qatar Tourism Authority's international co-operation director Saif al-Kuwari said in a statement yesterday.

“We believe that holding the official WTD 2017 celebrations in Qatar will provide a timely opportunity to take stock of the sector’s achievements and provide us with a new catalyst for all that is yet to come,” he observed.

Al-Kuwari noted that the tourism event mirrors the overarching message from this week’s UNWTO General Assembly which says that tourism has the power to drive the growth of nations around the world and must be at the forefront of national development plans.

“In Qatar 2017, we will create a series of events that will carry this message from us all, to the world,” he said.

Following the vote, UNWTO secretary general Dr Taleb Rifai cited the unique ability of tourism to spur development across socio-economic boundaries.

“As a sector behind as many as one in eleven jobs worldwide, tourism is a valuable source of livelihood for millions of people,” he said.

“Built around the countless cross-cultural encounters happening every day in all corners of the world, tourism is also a gateway to greater understanding of the world beyond our borders, and the first step in building peace between communities and nations,” Rifai added.

Burkina Faso was previously selected to host WTD 2015 under the theme “One Billion Tourists, One Billion Opportunities.” Next year’s celebrations will be held in Thailand and will be centered around “Tourism for All - promoting universal accessibility”.

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