The recognition of the role of tourism in sustainable development and the emphasis placed in the SDGs on the development of public policies for sustainable tourism is a landmark breakthrough that provides a unique opportunity for all governments to create a sound and favourable policy foundation.
The first two years of the implementation of the 2030 Agenda have shown that countries are making headway in aligning national strategies, adapting institutional frameworks and adjusting policies to realize the SDGs. The countries’ efforts have been reported in the Voluntary National Reviews (VNRs), presented by UN Member States during the High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF) in 2016 and 2017.
In Belgium’s Voluntary National Review, tourism is seen as an opportunity for the country to promote SDG 17 on partnerships and SDG 1 to eradicate poverty. The government of Wallonia has worked out a government – wide plan in view of using all regional levers like tourism that can reduce poverty.
Belgium also supports sustainable tourism projects in Tanzania that are training villagers to become ‘wild scouts’ who can engage alongside government rangers in the fight against poachers to protect biodiversity and the achievement of SDG 15.
However, Belgium also reported that they see challenges in the tourism sector, especially through waste from beach tourism, waste from commercial shipping and recreational craft to name a few.
In an effort towards waste management and marine and coastal protection, the Flemish government has set a target to reduce the leakage of litter to the marine environment by 75% by 2025. An action plan is currently being drafted to address both sea and land based sources of marine litter.