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Global Tourism Crisis Committee Advances Solutions for Return of Travel

Photo source: UNWTO

Photo source: UNWTO

The World Tourism Organization (UNWTO)recently held the ninth meeting of its Global Tourism Crisis Committee to advance solutions to the biggest challenges standing in the way of international travel returning.

Co-hosted by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the virtual meeting was attended by committee members, drawn from political leadership, international organizations, including UNWTO’s sister UN agencies, finance and the private sector.

Harmonized protocols and building confidence

During the meeting, the committee backed the proposed EU Digital Green Certificate as an example of joined-up protocols for other regions to follow.

Addressing the meeting, EU Vice President Margaritis Schinas said that “we can make summer 2021 the beginning of the post-pandemic era, one that is safer, more sustainable, more resilient and more prosperous”. He stressed that “the tourism sector can – and should – be at the forefront of this effort, leading the recovery of the European and the global economy”.

Schinas also outlined the work being done to raise consumer confidence in tourism, already devastated by issues surrounding cancelling and refunding travel services and noted: “UNWTO’s efforts to develop an International Code for the Protection of Tourists are most welcome”. The landmark legal code is one of several key UNWTO initiatives aimed at restoring confidence in international travel.

Also at the Committee, UNWTO and the International Air Transport Association (IATA) announced the forthcoming launch of a new Destination Tracker. This tool will be available on the websites of both organizations and provide comprehensive and up-to-date information on the restrictions and requirements of airlines and destinations, allowing tourists to make informed choices.

Recommendations for recovery

Photo source: UNWTO

Greece’s Tourism Minister and Chair of the UNWTO Crisis Committee’s Technical Group, Harry Theoharis, presented the crisis committee’s recommendations, which focus on four core areas: the resumption of safe, cross-border travel; promoting safe travel at all points of the tourist journey; providing liquidity to tourism businesses and protecting jobs; and restoring confidence in travel.

“This year we have more tools in our arsenal, including vaccinations, to address all concerns of travellers and people employed in the tourism sector,” Theoharis said.

Recommendations also call for the creation of public health corridors, the implementation of digital health solutions and the development of a common “traffic light” system as a recognizable risk management framework.

Financing tourism’s survival

Photo source: WTTC

Photo source: WTTC

Through the Global Tourism Crisis Committee, UNWTO also advanced on its work addressing one of the other key challenges facing global tourism, namely the sudden halt of tourism cash flow and the need to support businesses and protect jobs. Along with ICAO and the WHO, UNWTO is one of the only UN agencies working with the OECD on its International Mobility Initiative. UNWTO is also working closely with the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD).

OECD and EBRD again contributed to the latest meeting of the Crisis Committee, advancing coordinated efforts to both support tourism businesses through the current crisis and also to build future resilience and achieve greater sustainability, including through promoting green investments in the sector. Also updating the Committee were the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) and the International Finance Corporation (IFC), with their representatives focusing in particular on the potential role of innovation, green investments in tourism and on supporting businesses, now and during the recovery phase.

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