Safe Restart Of Tourism Is Possible Says UNWTO

Roland Ohaeri Headlines, Highlights, News, News Updates, Policy News Leave a Comment

The cost of the restrictions on travel introduced in response to the COVID-19 pandemic is there for all to see. According to World Tourism Organization (WTO), 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.

 

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.

 

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. Now, they must do everything they can to get people travelling again, following and implementing all the protocols which are part of the new reality.

 

WTO said governments have a duty to put the health of their citizens first. However, they also have a responsibility to protect businesses and livelihoods. For too long, and in too many places, the emphasis has overly focused on the former. And we are now paying the price.

 

It doesn’t have to be this way. As a sector, tourism has a long history of adapting and responding to challenges head-on.

 

In recent weeks, global tourism has led the way in finding and implementing solutions that will help us adapt to the new reality as we wait for a vaccine that could be many months away. Rapid but rigorous testing at ports and airports, and tracing and tracking apps have the potential to drive the safe restart of tourism, all of which builds on the learning curve of the behavior of individuals and societies during these difficult past months.

 

These solutions need to be fully embraced, not just cautiously explored. To delay will be a catastrophe and risk undoing all the progress we have made to establish tourism as a true pillar of sustainable and inclusive development.

 

Moreover, it will be the most vulnerable members of our societies who will be hit the hardest as those most shielded from the economic and social consequences of tourism’s standstill urge continued caution.

 

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.

 

Meanwhile, the UNWTO recently revealed that 40% of destinations have how eased travel restrictions, noting that the responsible restart of tourism is underway around the world as growing numbers of destinations ease COVID-19 related travel restrictions and adapt to the new reality.

 

According to the latest analysis from the UNWTO, 40% of all destinations worldwide have now eased the restrictions they placed on international tourism in response to COVID-19.

The United Nations specialized agency for tourism has been monitoring global responses to the pandemic from the start of the crisis. This latest outlook, recorded on 19 July, is up from 22% of destinations that had eased restrictions on travel by 15 June and the 3% previously observed by 15 May. It confirms the trend of a slow but continuous adaptation and responsible restart of international tourism.

 

At the same time, however, of the 87 destinations that have now eased travel restrictions, just four have completely lifted all restrictions, while 83 have eased them while keeping some measures such as the partial closure of borders in place. This latest edition of the UNWTO Travel Restrictions Report in addition shows that 115 destinations (53% of all destinations worldwide) continue to keep their borders completely closed for tourism.

 

UNWTO Secretary-General, Zurab Pololikashvili, said: “The restart of tourism can be undertaken responsibly and in a way that safeguards public health while also supporting businesses and livelihoods. As destinations continue to ease restrictions on travel, international cooperation is of paramount importance. This way, global tourism can gain people’s trust and confidence, essential foundations as we work together to adapt to the new reality we now face.”

Share on Social Media

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *