In a historic meeting this week in the midst of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, tourism ministers from the world’s leading economies met in Saudi Arabia, to explore ways to make tourism work through private-public partnerships, keep and create new jobs, ensure safe and seamless travel, and develop the sector sustainably.
Aimed at addressing the unprecedented challenges brought about by Covid-19 on the sector, G20 tourism ministers worked together with the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC), tourism company executives, the International Air Transport Association (IATA), and the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) in an attempt to rescue the tourism and travel sector and formulate a strong Covid-19 response.
Held on Wednesday in Riyadh, under the Saudi Arabia presidency, the assembly – the first ever G20 public-private sector meeting – focused on ways to maximize the tourism sector’s contribution to inclusive and sustainable development.
“This historic meeting provided the best platform to establish public and private collaboration, which will lead to rebuilding a sector which has been devastated by the pandemic,” said Gloria Guevara, WTTC President & CEO.
Besides PPCs, the G20 ministers agreed to promote sustainable authentic experiences, rural development, and community empowerment; build resilience; and support local communities. In this direction they endorsed a set of guidelines (known as the AlUla Framework) for inclusive community development through tourism tabled by the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) as a tool for achieving a fairer and more inclusive sector.
“As we join forces to restart tourism, we must live up to our responsibility to ensure that tourism’s benefits are shared by all,” said UNWTO Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashvili.
At the top of the agenda, especially in these challenging times due to Covid-19 restrictions and uncertainty, were ways to enhance the travel experience, for which ministers endorsed strategies for actions ensuring safe and seamless travel.
“It will take significant collaboration between the public and private sectors to ensure a full recovery and rebuild traveler confidence, which is why today’s G20 meeting was so important,” said Chris Nassetta, WTTC chairman and Hilton President and CEO, referring to the WTTC’s private sector action plan.
The ministers also pledged to intensify efforts aimed at sustainably developing the sector. Conclusions and integrated recommendations include providing tools to support governments and key sector stakeholders, including regional and local governments, the private sector, industry associations, civil society, communities and tourists.
The G20 meeting also stressed the importance of safeguarding culture and integrating it into the overall travel experience through the sharing of knowhow and case studies so that governments can work to protect local culture and the environment, while empowering local communities, especially women and young people.
A key conclusion was the importance of ensuring the inclusion of tourism issues in development policies on international, national and local levels with a focus on human capital development, inclusive labor markets, adequate social protection, and innovation and entrepreneurships well as to advancing women’s empowerment and to create decent jobs for all.
It should be reminded that one year before the Covid-19 pandemic broke out, the travel and tourism sector accounted for 10.3 percent of the world’s GDP, 330 million jobs, and 28 percent of global service exports.
One of the hardest hit sectors due to Covid-19, global tourism is set to record an estimated 60-80 percent decline in 2020. At the same time, WTTC estimates that up to 100 million jobs are at risk in the sector hit by the Covid-19 crisis.