September 27 is celebrated as World Tourism Day by United Nations World Travel Organization since 1980.
The day seeks to discuss the impact of tourism on economic, social and political sectors around the world and find ways to expand the prospects of travel trade.
Each year, a different theme is selected for discussion. This year, the theme is 'Tourism and the Digital Transformation.'
With digital sector witnessing a big leap thanks to big data and artificial intelligence, the Tourism Day will spread awareness among nations to utilize these cutting-edge technologies for sustainable tourism.
The main aim of the celebrations is to achieve sustainable development goals by inclusive programmes which have participation of all sections of the people and scientific utilization of resources.
The venue of the official celebrations this year is Budapest in Hungary.
Several awards will be presented at the event, including one introduced this year for the best international tourism startup entrepreneur.
Tourism has now grown to be a major source of revenue for many countries. The sector offers a huge opportunity for marketing local products. It also enables cultural exchange. Identifying and developing new destinations and investment potential of tourism are hot topics of discussion around the world.
Finding your own route
Earlier, travellers often found themselves stranded without proper route maps or guides. Information regarding accommodation, weather, food, and transportation was hard to come by. But all such issues have now vanished thanks to web-based maps.
Though there are several maps, the one with most features and which is constantly updated is Google Maps.
Other location finding apps include Open Street Map and Bing Maps.
Apps are now available for Android phones as well as platforms like Windows, Symbian, Blackberry, and Java.
All a traveller has to do is mark his destination and Google Maps will guide him or her along the most convenient route. The app is more reliable than an enquiry with some passer-by.
Google Street View is a feature of Google Maps which enables 360 degree view of roads and surroundings. One gets a real-life feeling of travelling along a road.
However, the views of all the streets around the world are yet to be available on Google Street View.
Meanwhile, Google Traffic provides real-time information on the traffic situation along each road.
Another app, Google Earth, helps one learn about every region on Earth.
With treatment cost lower than many other countries, India attracts numerous foreign citizens who seek medical services here. This is termed medical tourism.
Several hospitals and Ayurveda centres in Kerala have benefited from this development.
Another advantage of offering medical services at low cost is generation of a large number of jobs.
It is a web-based application developed with the support of Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO). Clear two and three-dimensional visuals can be obtained from the app, which shares accurate satellite images of India. Bhuvan has a number of features, including information on historic places and main cities in India.
This involves allowing tourists in limited numbers into ecologically sensitive areas and protected regions without causing damage to the environment.
Eco tourism's aims are, spreading awareness among tourists regarding the need to save sensitive areas and fulfil their obligations to the environment; and find a means to support the local communities.
This idea was the brainchild of the Russian space agency which sought a way to meet the mounting expenses of Mir, its space station.
The honour of being the first space tourist is enjoyed by Dennis Tito, an American industrialist, who stayed at the space station from April 30 to May 6, 2001.
Space tourism is expected to develop into a major sector in the coming years.