The Goa Roadmap lays down 10 different ways in which tourism can be used as an enabler of SDGs
In a significant step towards ensuring a better future, the G20 Tourism Working Group has released the Goa Roadmap for Tourism as a Vehicle for Achieving Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The policy recommendation document lists key enablers within the tourism industry and the specific priority areas towards tourism development. The roadmap was developed by the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) as a knowledge partner of India's G20 Presidency in association with the G20 Tourism Working Group. The group unveiled the roadmap on June 21, 2023, after an intense round of brainstorming in Goa. Over the last three years, G20 Tourism Working Groups have come up with roadmaps and frameworks to bring advancements to the tourism industry. Under India’s presidency with the theme ‘One Earth One Family One Future,’ the focus of the Goa Roadmap is on a participatory approach, offering realistic and actionable policy recommendations that align with larger agendas of sustainability, inclusivity, and resilience. The report reiterates that while the tourism industry directly correlates with some specific SDGs, it is a cross-cutting industry which can bring development which is not only limited to the sections of economic growth and employment, partnerships, responsible consumption, and innovation, but also climate action, gender equality and inclusivity, etc. It lays down 10 different ways in which tourism can be used as an enabler of the SDGs, including: climate action through international cooperation, equitable economic models, public-private-community partnerships, recognising visitors as stakeholders, destination management, etc. The report lists the survey research done by the Working Group to come to the policy recommendations, including to find the key enablers. Out of these, 5 priority areas are identified by the Working Group, and the document lays out specific guidelines for how these would be actualised in policy-making. GREEN TOURISM: This is prioritised due to the climate crisis that the world is undergoing. The tourism industry must be involved in the preservation of ecosystems, creation of sustainable infrastructures, employment of regenerative practices and circular approaches in value chains, and upholding of tourists as stakeholders. It lists different challenges to green tourism, and gauges the opportunities they offer. These are then mapped out into the different specific objectives that the tourism industry must attempt to achieve. The challenges listed are as follows: a transition to sustainable infrastructure, biodiversity conservation, involvement of local populations, improvement in measurement to reduce waste, and advancement of citizen action. DIGITALISATION: The Working Group recognises the need for digitalisation in the tourism industry to keep in line with technological growth worldwide, in order to maintain its place in the competitive market with changing habits of consumers. Thus, it calls for smart travel facilitation and smart destination management, along with an incorporation of artificial intelligence, augmented and virtual reality, and blockchain. This would also benefit MSMEs and the employees of the industry. The Roadmap warns policymakers against careless advancement of digitalisation which would cause entrench inequality, and to ensure that digitalisation leads to sustainability and inclusion. SKILLS: This priority implies the creation of jobs for a wider and more inclusive global talent. Tourism can be used as a tool for economic development. It includes vocational training, upskilling, reskilling, and new skilling. Policy must be geared towards talent attraction and retention, integration of local populations, developing sustainable skills, and improving perception of the tourism sector. TOURISM MSMEs: MSMEs are essential to the tourism industry. However, they are most often informal economies which are struggling with the long-term effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. This time for revival allows for the opportunity for digitalisation and modernisation of the MSMEs, particularly through travel and mobility startups with government investments. MSMEs must undergo sustainable transformation, be integrated into the value chain, find support regardless of size, share market knowledge and increase accessibility. DESTINATION MANAGEMENT: Tourism destinations is a technical term for the resources involved in any space that tourists would spend time. Destination Management Organisations (DMOs) are to be set up to organisation destinations, as part of networks of conveners. They are to focus on risk management and sustainability. They consolidate action between actors at the local level, as well as between different power structures involved in tourism destinations. They are to focus on collaboration, data collection and management, resilience, inculcating a multilevel approach, internalising new governance patterns, and forming effective long-lasting partnerships. The report lists case studies for these different priorities, describing research conducted on the tourism industry in order to give direct methods for implementation of these policy recommendations. The GOA Roadmap emphasises that these are voluntary actionable guidelines prescribed to the members of the Working Group in order to progress towards a sustainable future.