World Tourism Day 2014 - Message from the Bahamas Minister of Tourism

World Tourism Day – celebrated every year on the date September 27 – has as its theme for 2014 “Tourism and Community Development”, and looks beyond the immediate economic impacts of job creation, toward sustainable socio-economic development through community engagement. At the grass roots level, the empowerment of the people and communities of host destinations through tourism means providing better opportunities for sustainable livelihoods, as well as greater levels of self-determination and involvement in decision making. 

The Secretary General of the UN World Tourism Organisation has reminded us on this occasion that the UNWTO Code of Ethics states that “local populations should be associated with tourism activities and share equitably in the economic, social and cultural benefits they generate”. The Vatican in its message for World Tourism Day 2014 has also noted that local communities must make tourism their own and be the main actors in tourism development. 

These considerations are meaningful for The Bahamas, as a small island developing state, which long ago opted to make tourism one of the main pillars of its economic development. This year, we celebrate the Golden Jubilee of the modern Ministry of Tourism, the 50th anniversary of a revamped approach to the industry, which accelerated The Bahamas’ national development. 

We know that our success as a tourism destination is based on our people and our culture, heritage, festivals, food, music, arts and crafts. The Bahamianisation of the tourism product and the dissemination of the benefits of the tourism industry are guiding principles for the Ministry of Tourism. The Government of The Bahamas desires to see Bahamians, especially our young people, take advantage of the opportunity that tourism represents, be creative, and make the most of the business of tourism.

As we celebrate World Tourism Day 2014, we are encouraged by its focus on building “a more sustainable future for all”, as this ties strongly into The Bahamas’ continuing drive for sustainable development – social, economic and environmental – “a balanced progress”, as noted by the Vatican. We look forward to the future development of The Bahamas as a host destination, and to the empowerment of the people of The Bahamas through tourism.