Ask most people around the world about Liverpool and they will immediately mention either The Beatles or Liverpool Football Club. Ask most people in Liverpool, and they could tell you it is the centre of the universe, NASA may argue differently, but they would be told they are wrong, but always with a wry smile.
Today is World Tourism Day, an annual event that encourages us all to explore the fantastic diversity of people, place and our natural planet, but also acknowledging our immediate responsibilities to current ecosystems and all of our future generations.
Tourism is an incredibly emotionally nourishing opportunity through the discovery of new places, but also a connector of cultures and peoples, and also generates crucial significant value to local economies.
One in ten jobs on earth is in the visitor economy sector. In Liverpool City Region this looks like 57,000 people and £4.9 billion to local businesses all serving 60 million visitors per year, and rising.
This year's theme for World Tourism Day is 'Tourism and Green Investments', areas that were thoroughly explored at multiple sold-out events during Global Goals Week: Liverpool only last week. Day 1 kicked off with a mini-conference specifically positioned to convene, support and yet challenge the local visitor economy to be bolder, go further and move faster to become the sustainable destination champion it so easily could be. With kind yet brave opening words from The Rt Hon. Lord McConnell of Glenscorrodale (Co-Chair of the UK All-Party Parliamentary Group on the Global Goals) and new Leader of Liverpool City Council, Cllr Liam Robinson, the demand for accelerated progress across the whole day was palpable and the sense of a city about to make a big impression on a bigger stage was clear for all to feel.
Last week's event was a fusion of celebration of local SME businesses (and mini-expo) on their sustainability journey but also a global to local debate to inform the next steps of the strategic journey across the region. For the first time all local actors from all sectors connected on key themes like food, transport, accreditation, net zero, with national stakeholders such as Rachel McCaffrey (Visit England), Scott McLean (Green Tourism).
Marketing Liverpool's sustainability catalyst and Head of Business Tourism, Jenny Jensen said 'We've created a Visitor Economy Sustainability Taskforce for the region to react to growing market demand for support, to radically improve our Global Destination Sustainability (GDSI) Index rank and also connect into how Liverpool presents itself to the rest of the world. The SDGs are a perfect framework for us to use that does all of this, by aligning real impact with a universal global communications platform.'
Day 3 of Global Goals Week: Liverpool was also the launch of Liverpool Climate Week and focused on the built-environment, another of Liverpool City Region's biggest economic sectors, and absolutely interconnected with the visitor economy and today's World Tourism Day theme of green investments.
Interconnections such as these are where the 2030 Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals really begin to show their strengths. A locally adapted and community-engaged implementation of this framework are crucial to any city that aspires to lead in any way in the years ahead. 2030hub is at the global vanguard of this as part of the Local2030 Coalition, also given fresh impetus last week over in New York by UN and world leaders.
We cannot continue to have localised visitor economy plans not connected to transport, energy, built-environment, community and neighbouring authority plans. Liverpool cannot hit its challenging 2030 net zero targets by merely encouraging more international visitors to arrive by plane or cruise liner. It's time to go big. Liverpool is also witnessing the latest evolution politically in this agenda as the new Local Visitor Economy Partnership board is forming that should also provide another springboard for sustainability integration into mainstream growth strategic development.
'2030hub has been vocally championing for Liverpool to use the visitor economy rebuild in post-Covid times as a killer app for accelerating SDG added value locally. Tourism is a key economic component, that is intrinsically connected to the wider community through jobs and recognisable stakeholders, but also needs to strategically lift its head up and see beyond immediate and historic economic recovery to embrace the climate challenge in all its forms. Just imagine if we could do for sustainability globally what we did for Eurovision this year! We are amazingly proud to be guiding this part of Liverpool's sustainability journey.' said 2030hub's David Connor.
Liverpool's unique charm connected to it's natural vibrancy, creativity and passion also has a hard pragmatic tone based on decades of battles against some of the most economically challenging scenarios faced by any European cities. When Liverpool authentically connects a meaningful and strategic approach to sustainability and including the visitor economy in its own inimitable way, then brand 'Sustainable Liverpool' would be THE place-based impact and marketing case-study to be envious of.
The LCR Tourism Awards are still accepting entries (deadline is Sept 29th) if you can be super fast! Give us a shout if you need advice. Let's get more local businesses involved than ever before!
For more information on tourism & SDGs visit the UN World Tourism Organisation website via www.unwto.org