UNWTO centered tourism as a key pillar of sustainable development at the 5th United Nations Conference on Least Developed Countries.

The conference, held in Doha around the theme of “From Potential to Prosperity” came at the pivotal half-way point in the timeline to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals and fully implement the 2030 agenda. With the sector accounting for 7% of total exports, and as much as 10% for non-oil exporting LDCs, tourism has proven its power to drive development. The crosscutting and labour-intensive nature of tourism also creates links to many other economic sectors and positions it as a valuable contributor to national development strategies and support to entrepreneurs, the backbone of the sector. Tourism has been one of the key factors enabling the graduation of LDCs which are also Small Island Developing States, including Cabo Verde, Samoa, Maldives and most recently Vanuatu.

The UN Conference brought together Heads of State, governments, civil society organizations, entrepreneurs, students, youth and policy makers. In Doha, UNWTO participated in the UN principals meeting, several high-level events and thematic roundtables with sector partners, to help finance, build engagement and bolster sustainable long-term support for the LDCs. Key issues raised included climate action, innovation, new financing mechanisms, education youth empowerment, digitalization, and capacity building.