UNWTO and the International Labour Organization (ILO) are working together towards the common objectives of job creation, sustained growth and fair globalization through decent work in tourism, the UNWTO Secretary-General, Taleb Rifai, has underlined at the ILO Global Dialogue Forum on New Developments and Challenges in the Hospitality and Tourism Sector (Geneva, Switzerland, 23-24 November).
“Tourism has the potential to become a major generator of jobs after the crisis,” said ILO Director-General, Mr Juan Somavia, before the meeting, adding that “social dialogue between governments, employers and workers can ensure that the jobs generated will be decent. Such dialogue is particularly important for a service industry like tourism, where success depends so much on service quality, which, in turn, goes hand in hand with a skilled and motivated workforce”.
Opening the meeting alongside Mr Somavia, Mr Rifai, stated that the recent global economic crisis brought with it the opportunity for the two organizations to work together towards “a real partnership for tourism”.
“At a time when we must all unite our efforts to face the major challenge of a jobless recovery, tourism can create jobs and distribute them across the economy and nations like few other sectors”, said Mr Rifai. “Given its labour-intensive nature, tourism caters for different degrees of skills, and often provides employment opportunities for the most vulnerable segments of the population such as rural communities, youth and women” he added.
Tourism’s contribution to employment is estimated in the order of 6-7% of the overall number of jobs worldwide. In 2009, it is estimated that tourism generated around 225 million direct and indirect jobs. As such, tourism provides crucial opportunities for fair income, social protection, gender equality, personal development and social inclusion, central objectives of both UNWTO and the ILO.
Tourism is also one of the most resilient economic activities. In the first six months of 2010, UNWTO reported that international tourist arrivals grew by 7% against the 4% decline of 2009. It is particularly relevant that hotels and restaurants were among the few activities worldwide where global employment levels did not decline in 2009.
The Forum brought together over 150 government, employers’ and workers’ delegates from more than 50 countries to evaluate and discuss new developments and challenges for the tourism sector and their impact on jobs, human resources, development and industrial relations. In particular, the Forum addressed the strong poverty reduction potential of tourism and how good practices in this respect could be shared with other developing countries, especially within the framework of South-South development cooperation.