The World Tourism Day is being celebrated on 27 September 2021. Tourism is one of the world’s most important economic sectors. It employs one in every ten people on Earth and provides livelihoods to hundreds of millions more. For some countries, it can represent over 20 percent of their GDP.
It allows people to experience some of the world’s cultural and natural riches and brings people closer to each other, highlighting our common humanity.
The COVID-19 pandemic has had a massive social and economic impact. Both developed and developing economies have been hit. And marginalised groups and the most vulnerable have been hit hardest of all. The restart of tourism will help kickstart recovery and growth. It is essential that the benefits this will bring are enjoyed widely and fairly.
A roadmap to transform tourism needs to address five priority areas:
1. MANAGE THE CRISIS AND MITIGATE THE SOCIO-ECONOMIC IMPACTS ON LIVELIHOODS, PARTICULARLY ON WOMEN’S EMPLOYMENT AND ECONOMIC SECURITY.
Gradual and coordinated solutions and responses will have to be implemented to:
- protect livelihoods, jobs, income and enterprises;
- build confidence through safety and security in all tourism operations;
- strengthen partnerships and solidarity for socioeconomic recovery by placing a priority on inclusiveness and reducing inequalities.
2. BOOST COMPETITIVENESS AND BUILD RESILIENCE.
To support the development of tourism infrastructure and quality services across the entire tourism value chain; facilitate investments and build a conducive business environment for local MSMEs, diversify products and markets, and promote domestic and regional tourism where possible.
3. ADVANCE INNOVATION AND THE DIGITALISATION OF THE TOURISM ECOSYSTEM.
Recovery packages and future tourism developments could maximise the use of technology in the tourism ecosystem, promote digitalisation to create innovative solutions and invest in digital skills, particularly for workers temporarily without an occupation and for job seekers.
4. FOSTER SUSTAINABILITY AND INCLUSIVE GREEN GROWTH.
It is important for tourism to shift towards a resilient, competitive, resource efficient and carbon neutral sector, in line with the objectives and principles of the Paris Agreement on Climate Change and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Green investments for recovery could target protected areas, renewable energy, smart buildings and the circular economy, among other opportunities.
Financial and bailout support from governments to the accommodation, cruise and aviation industries could also ensure unsustainable polluting practices are banned.
5. COORDINATION AND PARTNERSHIPS TO TRANSFORM TOURISM AND ACHIEVE THE SDGS.
More agile approaches and alliances will be required for moving towards a resilient future and global goals. The UNWTO Global Tourism Crisis Committee has united the tourism sector to formulate a sector-wide response to the unprecedented challenge of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Effective coordination for reopening and recovery plans and policies could consider putting people first, involving government, development partners and international finance institutions for a significant impact on economies and livelihoods.
WHAT IS AT STAKE?
- 100 to 120 million direct tourism jobs at risk (UNWTO)
- Loss of $910 billion to $1.2 trillion in exports from tourism – international visitors’ spending (UNWTO)
- Loss of 1.5% to 2.8% of global GDP (UNCTAD)
- A lifeline for SIDS, LDCs and many African countries – tourism represents over 30% of exports for the majority of SIDS and 80% for some (UNWTO)