Marking the start of the third decade of the 21st century, 2020 is set to be a very important year. It will mark the 75th anniversary of the United Nations, the 2020 Olympics, the 2020 Expo in Dubai, the 60th anniversary of the Tourism Authority of Thailand and Thai Airways International and Visit Malaysia Year.
Most significantly, it will be the start of the final 10 years of “The Decade of Delivery” of the 2016- 2030 UN Sustainable Development Goals. As the only global industry that meets all the UN SDGs, Travel and Tourism is uniquely placed to be a part of the solution. Before looking ahead, however, it may be wise to look behind. The theme of this first issue of this decade is Health (SDG 3) which I consider the most important SDG. All forms of productivity and progress depend on good health.
For humans, both physical and mental health are important. At a broader level, good health is applicable to national economies, fiscal policies, corporate bottomlines,
environmental conditions. All are also prone to bouts of ill health which can be caused by both external and internal factors. While the “health” of Planet Earth and national economies are typically dominant topics, the lead story in this edtiion highlights a study which shows that promoting arts, culture, heritage and music
can contribute to good health. Another story looks at how the U.N. is working with renowned sports stars such as the Harlem Globetrotters to advance the same cause.
In recent years, Travel & Tourism has strengthened linkages with the agriculture sector by promoting culinary and gastronomic tourism. But there is enormous opportunity to expand this connectivity with multiple social, economic, cultural and environmental sectors such as sports and The Arts — all aimed at achieving the UN SDGs.
However, before charting a roadmap and Action Plan for this Decade of Delivery, Travel & Tourism needs to undergo a rigorous health-check. The industry has grown remarkably since the turn of the century, but that growth seems to be more fat than muscle. The results of a comprehensive and realistic check-up may show that some “behavioural adjustments” are necessary to restore a balance, the primary prerequisite for longevity and sustainability.
As 2020 is also the Year of the Nurse and Midwives, my team and I would like to hail the role of both in facilitating health and wellness. Doctors may be medically more qualified, but without nurses and midwives, no recovery will ever be possible. Travel & Tourism has long claimed to be an industry of peace and promoter of inclusive societies, friendship and understanding. A 10-year countdown has begun. This edition of The Olive Tree provides ample food for thought to put some wind in the sails of that effort.