UNWTO secretary general Zurab Pololikashvili has urged governments to go beyond words and begin taking decisive action to safeguard the millions of jobs under threat in the tourism sector due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The secretary-general said millions of people who depend on the sector are currently facing uncertainty and governments need to take the opportunity to recognise the contribution of the sector by going beyond words.
“This crisis has shown the strength of solidarity across borders. But nice words and gestures will not protect jobs or help the many millions of people whose lives are dependent on a thriving tourism sector.
“Governments have an opportunity to recognize tourism’s unique ability to not only provide employment but to drive equality and inclusivity.
“Our sector has proven its ability to bounce back and help societies recover. We ask that tourism is now given the right support to once again lead recovery efforts,” he said.
As part of its calls to the governments, the UNWTO is urging world leaders to rethink tax policies and employment policies relating to tourism and to help make sure businesses survive to help drive wider recovery efforts.
Just recently, the Zimbabwe government announced a ZW$500 million stimulus package for the tourism sector, an amount which some economic commentators have described as too small for the sector.
Some reports say it will not be until end of July or August that the sector can start thinking of opening their doors to tourists and that even if they are to open most people have taken too much shocks to start thinking of travelling.
COVID-19 which started in December last year has largely brought global tourism to a standstill due to travel restrictions and lockdowns instituted across the world from as far as January.
This has seen the secretary-general calling on the governments to lift such restrictions as soon as it is safe to do so in order that societies are once again able to benefit from the social and economic benefits tourism can bring.
Looking ahead, the Global Tourism Crisis Committee is working on a Recovery Plan for the sector which will be centred around open borders and enhanced connectivity while also working to raise consumer and investor confidence.
To help countries get back to growth, UNWTO said it will soon be launching a new Recovery Technical Assistance Package mean to enable its member states to build capacity and better market and promote their tourism sector in the challenging months ahead.