UNWTO calls for responsible restart of the tourism sector

Published on : Tuesday, June 23, 2020

The United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) recently released a new data that measures the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on tourism sector. The data comes as tourism industries across the globe has started to resume operations. Alongside the data, UNWTO has emphasized on the need for responsibility, safety and security as various countries have started lifting travel restrictions. The organisation also reiterated the need for credible commitment to support tourism as a pillar for recovery from the harsh impact of the coronavirus outbreak.

The UNWTO World Tourism Barometer has reported that the tourism sector has gradually started to restart in certain area after several months of unprecedented disruption. It mentioned that the most notable reopening has been noticed in Northern Hemisphere destinations so far. However, it has also declared that as travel restrictions continue to remain effective in a majority of global destinations, tourism too remains one of the worst affected sectors across the globe. In light of the result, UNWTO has said that tourism is still a backbone of economies and serves as a lifeline for many million and called upon governments and international organizations once again to provide the required help and support to tourism.

According to the data provided by UNWTO, April was expected to be one of the busiest times of the year for the tourism sector due to the Easter holidays. However, international tourist arrivals dropped by 97% due to the border closures and introduction of worldwide travel restrictions. The report also points that a 55% decline was noticed in the previous month of March. A total of 44% plunge in international tourist arrivals was noticed between January and April 2020. This resulted in a loss of about US$195 billion in international tourism receipts. The report states that at the regional level, Asia and the Pacific was the first to be hit by the pandemic. These regions were worst hit between January and April, with arrivals down 51% in that period. It has also been reported that Europe recorded the second-largest fall, with a 44% drop for the same period, followed by the Middle East (-40%), the Americas (-36%) and Africa (-35%).

Keeping the scenarios in mind, the UNWTO outlined three possible scenarios for the tourism sector in 2020 in the month of May. The scenarios highlighted potential declines in overall international tourist numbers of 58% to 78%, based on the time of lifting of travel restrictions. Later, UNWTO identified an increase in the number of destinations announcing measures to restart tourism since Mid-May. Alongside the gradual lifting of restrictions in some countries, the governments introduced measures like the creation of travel corridors, the resumption of some international flights as well as enhanced safety and hygiene protocols to restart tourism and promote domestic tourism.

Zurab Pololikashvili, Secretary-General, UNWTO said in his statement that as the sudden massive fall in tourist numbers threatens jobs and economies, it is important to make restart of tourism and responsible management a priority. He mentioned that health and safety as well as protection of the most vulnerable should be the number one concern of the tourism sector. He said that UNWTO calls for strong support for the tourism sector once again until tourism’s restart begins everywhere in order to protect jobs and businesses. He informed that the organisation is welcoming measures by both the European Union and individual countries including France and Spain to support tourism economically and build the foundations for recovery.

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