Tourism has vital role in confronting social ills in the UK and abroad

"Tourism teaches us respect," says Edinburgh Napier's Eleni Theodoraki on UN World Tourism Day

Date posted

27 September 2016


Last updated

19 March 2020

Eleni TheodorakiEdinburgh Napier's Eleni Theodoraki says that tourism allows us to "confront social ills". Her comments come on UN World Tourism Day, where the theme is 'Accessible Tourism'.

Doctor Theodoraki, Associate Professor in Festival and Event Management at Edinburgh Napier University, believes that tourism can help us better understand societal challenges at home and abroad:

“We live in a contradictory world that is advancing quickly in some areas, but also one where struggle is still a part of everyday life. In an age when the driverless car is on the verge of mass production, large portions of the world’s population still live without access to clean water, tourism plays a pivotal role in helping us understand these different social contexts.

"Priorities are changing, and we are beginning to break through the perception that tourism is purely hedonistic; mobility and travel are vital to our learning, and allows us to confront social ills.

"By expanding personal experiences and engaging with new cultures, the perception of our own society can be seen in a new light. We start understanding people in places we visit. With that comes empathy and dialogue which are crucial for meeting our sustainable development worldwide.

"Accessible tourism is a means to gaining more respect for one another. It is a great way to ignite interest in different cultures.”

Tuesday 27 September marks the UN’s annual World Tourism Day, and this year the theme is focused on promoting universal accessibility. ‘Tourism for All’ aims to raise awareness of the importance of tourism and its social, cultural, political and economic value. 

The United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) strives to create environments that can "cater for the needs of all". Whether it is families with young children, people with disabilities, or the ageing population, this year’s World Tourism Day helps to highlight the immense benefits universal accessibility can bring to a wider society.