UNWTO launches call for action to aid tourism industry

MADRID — The World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) has released a set of recommendations to support the tourism industry in the wake of COVID-19.

The agency’s newly formed Global Tourism Crisis Committee, established with high-level representatives from across the tourism sector and from within the wider United Nations system, is calling for urgent support from all countries to help the tourism sector recover from the effects of the pandemic.

Recognizing that tourism and transport have been among the hardest hit of all sectors, the recommendations are designed to support governments, the private sector and the international community in navigating the unparalleled social and economic emergency that is COVID-19.

“These specific recommendations give countries a checklist of possible measures to help our sector sustain the jobs and support the companies at risk at this very moment,” says UNWTO Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashvili. “Mitigating the impact on employment and liquidity, protecting the most vulnerable and preparing for recovery, must be our key priorities.”

The Recommendations for Action are the first comprehensive set of actions governments and private sector actors can take now and in the challenging months ahead. The Secretary-General stresses that “for tourism to fulfill its potential to help societies and whole countries recover from this crisis, our response needs to be quick, consistent, united and ambitious”.

In all, this new guide provides 23 actionable recommendations, divided into three key areas:

• Managing the crisis and mitigating the impact, with recommendations for worker retention and training with a probable recession looming

• Providing stimulus and accelerating recovery, stressing the importance of providing financial stimulus, including favourable tax policies, lifting travel restrictions as soon as the health emergency allows for it, promoting visa facilitation, boosting marketing and consumer confidence, and a call for tourism to be placed at the centre of national recovery policies and action plans

• Preparing for tomorrow, with emphasis on building resilience by learning from the lessons of the current crisis. The recommendations call on governments and private sector actors to build preparedness plans, and to use this opportunity to transition to the circular economy.

These recommendations stress the need for increased sustainability as the industry bounces back.

“We still do not know what the full impact of COVID-19 will be on global tourism. However, we must support the sector now while we prepare for it to come back stronger and more sustainable. Recovery plans and programs for tourism will translate into jobs and economic growth,” says the Secretary-General.