G20 nations on Friday pledged to provide support to travel and tourism, one of the most heavily affected sectors by the Covid-19 pandemic.
“We commit to working together to provide support to the sector and welcome the national efforts to mitigate the social and economic impacts of the pandemic by G20 countries,” the ministers said in a statement following their virtual Extraordinary Tourism Ministers’ Meeting, chaired by Saudi Tourism Minister, Ahmed Al- Khateeb.
The ministers also pledged to work with authorities to ensure that the introduction and removal of travel restrictions are coordinated and proportionate to the national and international situation, and ensure the safety of travelers.
Preliminary estimates from the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) indicate a 45 percent decline in international tourism in 2020 due to the coronavirus, which could rise to 70 percent if recovery efforts are delayed until September.
During the meeting, the ministers agreed to work with international organizations, industry partners, and across governments to include travel and tourism in response and recovery programs.
“We recognize the importance of ensuring the safety and well-being of workers in travel and tourism and commit to working together to support an inclusive and sustainable recovery in the sector,” the ministers said.
The World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) has estimated that up to 100 million jobs are at risk in the travel and tourism sector due to Covid-19.
To support economic recovery, the ministers said they commit to ensuring a safe travel environment that helps rebuild consumer confidence in the sector, by strengthening regional and international coordination.
“We commit to helping tourism sector businesses, especially micro-, small- and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs), entrepreneurs, and workers to adapt and thrive in a new post-crisis era, for example by fostering innovation and digital technologies that enable sustainable practices and seamless travel,” they said.
Moreover, to encourage inclusive recovery in the sector, the G20 tourism ministers intend to work to support developing economies that rely on travel and tourism.
“We will explore opportunities such as capacity building programs in travel and tourism to help the world economy recover, and help the sector become more inclusive, robust, and resilient,” they said.
The ministers tasked the Tourism Working Group, ahead of the tourism ministers’ Meeting in Saudi Arabia on October 7, “to identify challenges to the sector that have arisen from the crisis, to develop and share further targeted responses to stimulate recovery, and to identify ways to improve resiliency in the sector”.
Kingdom of Saudi Arabia currently holds the G20 presidency.