April 1 2020  |  Industry News

UNWTO makes recommendations to “grow back better” after current crisis

By Jas Ryat

Industries the world over and in virtually every sector, with few exceptions, have been hit hard by the current pandemic, but for none is that more true than travel and tourism.

Despite this reality, business will eventually return. The World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) has issued a set of recommendations created by its newly formed Global Tourism Crisis Committee to help the global tourism sector not only recover, but to “grow back better.”

Industries that are not offered support at this time will take a much longer time to recover, delaying the economic recovery as a whole. As tourism is a labor-intensive industry, many millions of jobs are at risk. A great number of these jobs are held by women, youth and marginalized people, and for many countries tourism is the main contributor to the GDP, making well thought-out support of this industry essential.

Important measures to help all

These Recommendations for Action, the first comprehensive set of actions governments and the private sector can take starting now and continuing while necessary, are designed to elicit strong and urgent assistance in a way that supports governments, the private sector and the international community in navigating the unprecedented social and economic emergency. UNWTO Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashvili said: “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.”

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

Three key areas

The 23 recommendations are divided into three key areas:

Managing the Crisis and Mitigating the Impact

A global economic recession looks all but impossible to avoid. Key recommendations relate to retaining jobs, supporting self-employed workers, ensuring liquidity, promoting skills development and reviewing taxes, charges and regulations relating to travel and tourism.

Providing Stimulus and Accelerating Recovery

This set of Recommendations emphasizes the importance of providing financial stimulus, including favorable tax policies. As tourism is such an essential industry that affects so many incomes — directly and indirectly — the UNWTO recommends it be placed at the center of national recovery policies and action plans. Essential steps include travel restrictions as soon as the health emergency allows for it, promoting visa facilitation, boosting marketing and consumer confidence, in order to accelerate recovery.

Preparing for Tomorrow

The UNWTO recognizes that a crisis such as this can point out weaknesses in industries that need to be addressed in preparedness for the future. On this note, The Recommendations call on governments and private sector actors to understand tourism’s unique ability to lead local and national growth, the Recommendations call for greater emphasis to be placed on the sector’s contribution to the Sustainable Development Agenda help the industry become more resilient, build preparedness plans, and to use this opportunity to transition to the circular economy.

Global Tourism Crisis Committee

The Recommendations are the first output of the Global Tourism Crisis Committee, established by UNWTO with high-level representatives from across the tourism sector and from within the wider United Nations system.

UNWTO formed the Global Tourism Crisis Committee to guide the sector as it responds to the COVID-19 crisis and to build the foundations for future resilience and sustainable growth. The Committee comprises representatives of UNWTO’s Member States and Affiliate Members, alongside the World Health Organization (WHO), the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), and the International Maritime Organization (IMO). The private sector is represented by Airports Council International (ACI), Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA), International Air Transport Association (IATA) and World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) to ensure a coordinated and effective response.

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