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UN chief calls for sustainable recovery of tourism from COVID-19

Posted: Friday, August 28, 2020. 2:31 pm CST.

By Aaron Humes: Launching a policy brief on tourism and COVID-19, Secretary-General to the United Nations Antonio Guterres said the tourism sector built from the ashes of the pandemic must be “safe, equitable and climate-friendly.”

According to Xinhua News via China News, he identified five priority areas: mitigating the socio-economic impacts of COVID-19, building resilience across the entire tourism value chain, maximizing the use of technology in the tourism sector, promoting sustainability and green growth and fostering partnerships to enable tourism to further support the Sustainable Development Goals.

Guterres warned that transport-related greenhouse gas emissions could rebound sharply if recovery is not aligned with climate goals, and that the travel experience must be sustainable and responsible and safe for host communities, workers and travellers to support the millions who depend on tourism.

Worldwide, tourism employs one of every ten persons and supports hundreds of millions more by bringing people together to experience the world’s culture and natural riches and each other.

As the World Tourism Organization has reported, in the first five months of 2020 international tourist arrivals decreased by more than half and some 320 billion U.S. dollars’ worth of exports from tourism were lost.

Overall, some 120 million direct jobs in tourism are at risk, many in the informal economy or in micro, small and medium-sized enterprises, which employ a high proportion of women and young people, he said.

The crisis is a major shock for developed economies. But for developing countries, it is an emergency, particularly for many small island developing states and African countries.

For women, rural communities, indigenous peoples and many other historically marginalized populations, tourism has been a vehicle for integration, empowerment and generating income.

Tourism is also a key pillar for the conservation of natural and cultural heritage. The fall in revenues has led to increased poaching and habitat destruction in and around protected areas, and the closure of many World Heritage Sites has deprived communities of vital livelihoods, he said.

Guterres concluded his message by calling for the restoration of tourism’s position as “a provider of decent jobs, stable incomes and the protection of our cultural and natural heritage.”


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