Resilient and determined tourism sector gears up for next year

Tourists on safari in Nairobi National Park. [Elvis Ogina, Standard]

This year has been another difficult time for our societies and economies, especially tourism. Millions of jobs and businesses remain at the mercy of the evolving crisis and the actions of governments.

However, we are not in the same place we were when the coronavirus was declared a pandemic in March 2020. We have succeeded in laying the groundwork for restarting tourism around the pillars of sustainability, innovation, people and investing for a resilient future.

Over the past year, progress has been made in the deployment of vaccinations and in the detection and treatment of Covid-19. We have seen significant progress in finding the right balance between the safety of people and maintaining the vital lifeline of tourism, as exemplified by the effective collaboration of the United Nations World Tourism Organization with the United Nations. global health since the start of the pandemic.

A collaborative and multilateral approach must remain central to capitalizing on the lessons we have learned in such a short time. We have also ensured that harmonized travel protocols are at the heart of restarting tourism in many parts of the world, especially in northern hemisphere destinations during peak summer months. We are encouraged by the resilience and determination of the tourism sector itself, as well as of our Member States.

To broaden our mandate, we have seen interest in UNWTO’s innovation and business creation competitions grow, showcasing the talents we have unleashed and our shared desire to hear new voices and ideas. ” adopt new ideas in the tourism sector.

Our global innovation ecosystem is now made up of more than 12,000 start-ups from 160 countries, with 83 million dollars mobilized and 300 partner companies currently working on new tourism technologies. Our training programs through IE University, Les Riches, Glion Institute, Ecole du Casse and Swiss Education Group have welcomed over 20,000 students from 100 countries in just 18 months offering 19 online courses in Spanish , English and Arabic; a true “online university of universities”.

Relaunching tourism is unthinkable without green investments. We work with institutions such as the International Finance Corporation of the World Bank and the Inter-American Development Bank. To date, more than 200 investors are part of the UNWTO Global Investment Network, advancing essential work such as supporting hotel chains in 50 countries to become more sustainable.

Tourism is ready to do the hard work and take responsibility for people and the planet, as evidenced by the huge interest we received in the Glasgow Declaration on Climate Action in Tourism at the Nations Summit United on Climate Change, COP26. We are receiving a growing number of commitments to halve emissions by 2030 and reach net zero by 2050.

We ensure that the benefits of tourism are enjoyed as widely and equitably as possible, including by making the sector an engine of rural development, as demonstrated by the UNWTO Best Tourist Villages initiative.

Launched with great enthusiasm this year, 44 villages from 32 countries were rewarded at our recent General Assembly, for showing their commitment to tourism development in line with the Sustainable Development Goals.

The 24th UNWTO General Assembly in Madrid brought our members together to speak with one voice. Members congratulated UNWTO for the work done during the pandemic and its vision for the future of the organization and the sector, endorsing key initiatives such as a first International Code for the Protection of Tourists. This historic legal framework is designed to restore confidence in travel, an essential ingredient for recovery.

In a crisis, you realize both what’s important and who your friends are. Like never before, the pandemic has clearly shown the relevance of tourism to our economies and societies. Tourism is now part of the global conversation and at the heart of national and international recovery action plans.

And support for the UNWTO has never been stronger or more visible. Over the past 12 months, we have strengthened our key partnerships, including the G20 and G7, as well as ICAO (International Civil Aviation Organization), FAO (United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations). agriculture), the World Bank, the IDB (Inter-American Development Bank), CAF (Development Bank of Latin America) and the EBRD (European Bank for Reconstruction and Development). We have further strengthened our voice at the UN summit, including the historic recognition of tourism and UNWTO by the UN Secretary-General.

This year, we opened the first regional office for the Middle East in Riyadh, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Built and opened in record time, it will serve as a platform to deliver on our commitment to education and as a global center for tourism and rural development.

Reaching out to our members in other regions is an ongoing task and we will also be working to open the first regional offices in Africa and the Americas.

As we move forward in the preparations for these new hubs, we also welcome new Member States. Antigua and Barbuda, a destination where tourism is an economic pillar, has joined the UNWTO. It shows that tourism dependent countries look to the UNWTO and depend on us, and we are ready to take on this responsibility.

At the same time, our network of affiliate members from the private sector, local governments, destinations and universities continues to grow. So is our collaboration with the media, and therefore the message of tourism for development will continue to reach a global audience of unprecedented size and diversity.

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