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United Nations Secretary-General highlights the scale of world tourism’s crisis

United Nations Secretary-General highlights the scale of world tourism’s crisis
August 26, 2020

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has warned that the Coronavirus pandemic puts as many as 100 million direct jobs in global tourism as risk.

Speaking overnight, and drawing on the latest data from the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), Secretary-General Guterres explained that the massive drop in export revenues from tourism could reduce global GDP by as much as 2.8% due to Coronavirus.

With tourism among the hardest hit of all industries by COVID-19 and no country having been unaffected, restrictions on travel and a sudden drop in consumer demand leading to an unprecedented fall in international tourist numbers.

The Tourism and COVID-19 Policy Brief from the UNWTO makes clear the impact that the pandemic has had on global tourism and how this affects everything from jobs and economies to wildlife conservation and the protection of cultural heritage.

The Brief stresses that tourism is an essential pillar of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and that the current crisis places the most vulnerable workers and nations at greatest risk.

Stating that “it is imperative that we rebuild the tourism sector” in a “safe, equitable and climate friendly” manner and so “ensure tourism regains its position as a provider of decent jobs, stable incomes and the protection of our cultural and natural heritage”, Secretary-General Guterres underscored that tourism is one of the world’s most important economic sectors, providing “livelihoods to hundreds of millions more”, while it “boosts economies and enables countries to thrive”, and at the same time allowing “people to experience some of the world’s cultural and natural riches and brings people closer to each other, highlighting our common humanity”.

The Brief notes that international tourist numbers could decline by -58% to -78% year-on-year in 2020, and visitor spending from US$1.5 trillion in 2019 to between US$310 billion and US$570 billion.

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres explains the potential scenarios for tourism revenues, with the expected full-year decline placing 100 million jobs at risk in the sector.

The Brief also shows that Small Island Developing States (SIDS) and Least Developing Countries (LDCs), including many African nations, are most vulnerable due to their reliance on tourism for jobs and economic growth.

Wording in the Brief advises “no country has escaped the decimation of its tourism sector, from Italy where tourism accounts for 6% of the country’s GDP to Palau where it generates almost 90% of all exports. This crisis is a major shock for developed economies and an emergency for the most vulnerable people and developing countries. In Africa, the sector represented 10% of all exports in 2019.”

The Policy Brief outlined five priorities for the restart of tourism, aimed at ensuring a more resilient, inclusive and carbon neutral sector. These priorities are:

• Mitigate socio-economic impacts on livelihoods, particularly women’s employment and economic security.
• Boost competitiveness and build resilience, including through economic diversification and encouragement of MSMEs.
• Advance innovation and digital transformation of tourism
• Foster sustainability and green growth
• Enhanced focus on coordination, and responsible leadership.

Image: United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres.

About the author

Nigel Benton

Co-owner / Publisher, Australasian Leisure Management

Nigel Benton is the co-owner and publisher of Australasian Leisure Management, Australia and New Zealand’s only magazine for professionals in all areas of the leisure industry. Having established the magazine in 1997, shortly after his relocation to Australia, he has managed its readership rising to over 11,500 and its acceptance as the industry journal for professionals in aquatics, attractions, entertainment, events, fitness, parks, recreation, sport, tourism and venues.

As of 2020, he has launched the new Asian Leisure Business website.

Among a range of published works and features, his comments on a Blog (blogspot) from 2007 to 2011, when this website went live in its current form, may be interesting to reflect back on.

Click here to connect with him via LinkedIn.

Read more from this author

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