This week the United Nations Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres, launched the Policy Brief “COVID-19 and Transforming Tourism”, which the United Nations World Tourism Organization assumed the lead role in producing.
The report shows that there is a high risk of losing tens of millions of direct tourism jobs, in addition to the loss of opportunities for vulnerable populations and communities who make a living thanks to tourism. The report also shows that there could be a risk of losing resources for safeguarding natural and cultural heritage across the world.
The UNWTO requests that travel restrictions be eased or lifted in a timely and responsible manner. “It means that policy decisions need to be coordinated across borders to face up to a challenge which does not care about borders,” said UNWTO Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashvili.
The UNWTO is proposing “COVID-19 and Transforming Tourism” as a further element in the roadmap for the sector to regain its unique status as a source of hope and opportunity for for both developing and developed nations. “All governments and international organizations have a stake in supporting tourism,” said Pololikashvili, and went on to call on governments to back up words with actions.
UNWTO delegations are now seeing first-hand how the Middle East is ready to restart tourism safely and responsibly. In Egypt President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi and his government made clear how targeted support has saved jobs. Iconic sites such as the Pyramids are ready to welcome back tourists, with the safety of both tourism workers and tourists themselves a priority.
The government of Saudi Arabia has welcomed UNWTO and expressed a firm commitment to continue building the Kingdom’s tourism sector, first for domestic visitors, then for international visitors.
“The pandemic is far from over,” said Pololikashvili. “We must be ready to act fast to save lives. We can also take decisive action to protect jobs and safeguard the many benefits tourism delivers.”