SDG: The New Scenario for Governmental and Institutional Travel and Tourism

SDG: The New Scenario for Governmental and Institutional Travel and Tourism

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The Sustainable Development Goals of the United Nations, also known by its acronym SDG, refers to the initiative promoted by the United Nations (UN) towards the adoption of a set of 17 goals of universal application focused on eradicating poverty, protecting the planet and ensuring prosperity for all as part of a new sustainable development agenda (1): the Agenda 2030 on Sustainable Development. These goals were set in 2015 as the predecessors of the Millennium Development Goals (MDG), and are intended to achieve those targets that could not be achieved over a period of 15 years.

Despite its non-binding nature, more than 150 countries have committed themselves to monitoring and analysing progress towards its achievement. Each of the 17 SDG sets out a series of targets to be achieved by 2030, indicating why their fulfilment is important. To meet these targets, the involvement of all stakeholders - governments, the private sector, civil society and the public - is required.

The considerable economic weight of the tourism sector, ranging from infrastructure and communication to food production and transportation, gives it the responsibility and power to play a leading role in the sustainable and responsible development of economies and societies (2).

The tourism sector plays a fundamental role in pursuing the Sustainable Development Goals due to its cross-cutting nature, as well as its broad global reach. We can see reflected the tourist activity in many of these Objectives, although Tourism is explicitly mentioned in only 3 of them:

  • Goal 8 promotes sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all. Tourism is a major contributor to the global economy, accounting for more than 10 per cent of global GDP and one in 11 jobs. It is therefore necessary to promote sustainable tourism that creates jobs and promotes local culture and products.
  • Goal 12 aims to ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns, which requires the development and implementation of tools to monitor the impact on sustainable development, which can be beneficial in achieving Goal 8.
  • Goal 14 seeks to conserve and sustainably use oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development. Since coastal and maritime tourism is the largest tourism segment, and depends on healthy marine ecosystems, tourism development should be part of integrated coastal zone management in order to help conserve and preserve fragile ecosystems and serve as a vehicle for promoting the blue economy.

Although tourism is clearly mentioned in only 3 of the Goals, this does not disassociate tourism from its impact on the rest of the SDG, where it still has to overcome major challenges.

SDGs do not distinguish between developed and developing countries, but involve all nations in common goals. Governmental and Institutional Travel and Tourism (GITT) is somewhat related in this regard, as the destinations targeted by this type of travel are heterogeneous and do not bear any similarity. In this respect, the tourism sector can contribute to the eradication of poverty in areas or destinations not taken into account by tourists from other sectors, or help poor communities in important tourist destinations to benefit from this economic activity. Thus, tourism enterprises play a fundamental role because their knowledge, experience and resources are essential for these more degraded communities to be included in tourism routes, offering a different kind of tourism; experiential tourism, which is now in great demand by certain tourists.

On the other hand, governments are increasingly trying to move towards the integration of gender equality in their territories - both in companies and in the very composition of the members of the government. This is why this type of travel can become a positive factor in integrating women into tourism flows, which entails a series of benefits for both women and the community itself.

This sector, due to its specific needs, demands a series of essential requirements in terms of infrastructure quality, security, peace or water sanitation, which also have a direct impact on the achievement of certain Objectives included in the UN Agenda 2030. Governmental and Institutional Travel and Tourism generates a great impact on society since it is followed by millions of people due to the great media coverage. For this reason, they can contribute to changing consumption patterns, encouraging them to be responsible and sustainable by repeating or imitating the patterns exemplified by this type of travel.

At this point, it is practically evident that the current international situation caused by the COVID-19, or SARS-CoV-2, has changed and will change tourism worldwide. The post-COVID-19 tourism scenario, according to the media and experts, will be one of the most affected, not so much in terms of volume - which will indeed show a notable decrease at the beginning - but rather in terms of action protocols and the establishment of a "new normality" that can be extended to all travellers.

Just as occurred after the dramatic situations such as the attacks of 11 September 2001 in New York (United States), 11 March 2004 in Madrid (Spain) or 7 July 2005 in London (United Kingdom), the modes, uses and precautions in transport are likely to vary as a result of the "challenges" posed by this type of adversities.

Given its importance, and in line with the standardization and development of international relations, it is foreseeable that Governmental and Institutional Travel and Tourism will be the pioneer in introducing this type of "new" travel measures, as well as sectors such as accommodation or catering.

After COVID-19, the new safety and health protocols should be in line with the lessons this pandemic is drawing, in accordance with the Sustainable Development Objectives applied to Tourism mentioned above. In this sense, it is possible an adjustment, inclusion or redesign of the SDG, as well as a consequent enhancement.

Undoubtedly, the value and adequacy of the SDG with respect to tourism must be marked by representatives and authorities of governments and institutions, who will most likely be the first to travel and learn first-hand about the impact of COVID-19 on travel. Therefore, Governmental and Institutional Travel and Tourism not only will help in the adoption and implementation of new protocols, but will also help in the normalization of citizen travel in the immediate future.



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