The global tourism industry has been hit hard by the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic, putting as many as 100 million direct tourism jobs at risk, United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres said in a policy brief that was released on Tuesday.
The policy brief refered to the impact that the pandemic has had on global tourism and how this affects everything from jobs and economies to wildlife conservation and the protection of cultural heritage.
Based on the latest data by the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), the brief said that the massive drop in export revenues from tourism could reduce global GDP by as much as 2.8 percent.
It also notes that women, youth and workers in the informal economy are most at risk from job losses and business closures across the tourism sector.
Meanwhile, destinations most reliant on tourism for jobs and economic growth, including Small Island Developing States (SIDS) and Least Developed Countries (LDCs), are likely to be hardest hit, due to an anticipated fall in foreign direct investment (FDI).
The brief also warns that the impacts of the pandemic on tourism are already placing conservation efforts in jeopardy.
Furthermore, with 90 percent of World Heritages Sites having closed as a result of the pandemic, both tangible and intangible heritage is at risk in all parts of the world.
Five priorities for restarting tourism
Calling for strong support for the sector, Antonio Guterres stressed that this crisis represents an opportunity to rethink tourism, including how it contributes to the SDGs.
“It is imperative that we rebuild the tourism sector in a safe, equitable and climate friendly manner and so ensure tourism regains its position as a provider of decent jobs, stable incomes and the protection of our cultural and natural heritage,” Guterres said.
The UN policy brief provides five priorities for the restart of tourism, aimed at ensuring a more resilient, inclusive and carbon neutral sector. These priorities are:
- Mitigate socio-economic impacts on livelihoods,
- Boost competitiveness and build resilience,
- Advance innovation and digital transformation of tourism,
- Foster sustainability and green growth,
- Enhanced focus on coordination, and responsible leadership.