At ITB Berlin, UNWTO Highlights Plans For More Equal, Sustainable Future For Tourism

by Olamilekan Okeowo

The World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) has called for a more equal and sustainable future for tourism.

The global tourism body made this known earlier this month at the ITB Berlin when the Digital Meet-up of the Travel Industry held between March 9 and 12 focusing on the global restart of tourism, what this means for sustainable development and equality and how innovation and communication can help build the sector we need for the future we want.

It also featured key insights from both public and private sectors. The event showcased how addressing plastic waste and pollution within tourism can support the sustainable recovery of the sector in the aftermath of the pandemic, noting both the progress that has been made and the challenges still to face.

“As the United Nations specialized agency leads the restart of global tourism following the unprecedented crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the three virtual events brought together voices from across the sector at the leading trade fair. Against a backdrop of ongoing uncertainty, UNWTO outlined a positive narrative for tourism, stressing its historic ability to lead from the front and adapt to new challenges” the statement from UNWTO said.

Delving on less waste and more opportunity, the first event themed “Eliminate. Innovate. Circulate: Strategies from the Global Tourism Plastics Initiative” hosted jointly by UNWTO, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the Ellen MacArthur Foundation examined how addressing plastic waste and pollution within tourism can support the sustainable recovery of the sector in the aftermath of the pandemic, noting both the progress that has been made and the challenges still to face.

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In the second virtual event themed Changemakers: Female entrepreneurs driving the SDGS, UNWTO against the backdrop of Women’s History Month hosted a special panel on female entrepreneurs within tourism. The event featured presentations by the five female winners of the UNWTO SDGs Startup Competition, outlining how their enterprises can contribute to addressing key issues such as gender equality, poverty alleviation and providing decent work for all.

Also at ITB Berlin, UNWTO looked ahead to tourism’s restart by bringing together leading voices from across the media to explore the need for a new narrative to fit the rethink and restart of tourism with sustainability as the driving goal.

The “Communications for Recovery: “Protecting those Groups Most Affected in and Beyond the Tourism Crisis” event featured expert participants from Google Arts & Culture, the BBC, Euronews and Voyages Afrique, alongside high-level private sector participants from Expedia and Stark Communications. The panel identified how the pandemic has changed the way the media present tourism and promote destinations, with members universally expressing their optimism in tourism not only returning to growth but also both tourists themselves as well as stakeholders across the sector taking a greater interest in the impact of tourism on communities and people and planet.

Alongside hosting events, UNWTO also contributed expert insights to a discussion on Tourism for Sustainable Development. The event was organized by the German Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) and the German Corporation for International Development (GIZ).

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