While countries around the world have been in a state of lockdown for months now — with travel restrictions in place — so as to contain the spread of the virus, the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) has now called for international coordination so as to restart travel and revive the global tourism industry that has already incurred losses worth billions of dollars in the pandemic, a statement dated August 18, has said.
Secretary-general of the UNWTO Zurab Pololikashvili urged governments to start safe travel and protect jobs and businesses.
“Between January and May, the sudden and rapid fall in tourist arrivals cost an estimated $320 billion. That’s three times greater than the impact of the Great Recession of 2007-2009 on our sector – and this is just for the first five months of the year,” Pololikashvili’s statement read.
“The re-opening of borders to tourism is a welcome relief to millions who depend on our sector. But this alone is not enough, especially in view of recent announcements and measures which seem further and further away from the international coordination that UNWTO has been calling for since the pandemic erupted.”
“In these uncertain times, people around the world need strong, clear and consistent messages. What they don’t need are policy moves which ignore the fact that only together are we stronger and able to overcome the challenges we face,” it continued.
Governments must do everything they can to #RestartTourism in a safe way to rebuild trust and protect jobs and economies.
They must seize tourism’s capacity to adapt to the new reality putting people’s health and livelihoods first. https://t.co/YwUfV9EqMx pic.twitter.com/9iEQPJwPqG
— World Tourism Organization (@UNWTO) August 18, 2020
Pololikashvili said in the statement that while “those in positions of leadership and influence have recognized the importance of tourism for jobs, economies and rebuilding trust”, this is only the first step. And that they must do everything they can “to get people travelling again, following and implementing all the protocols which are part of the new reality”.
He reasoned that while governments around the world have a duty to put the health of their citizens first, they also have the responsibility to protect businesses and livelihoods.
“Short-sighted unilateral actions will have devastating consequences in the long run. By and large, people have learned how to behave in a responsible way. Businesses and services have put protocols in place and adapted their operations. Now it’s time for those making the political decisions to close the gaps, so that we all can advance together,” Pololikashvili said in the statement.
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