· Canvasses financial, political commitment
As the effect of the dreaded COVID-19 virus popularly known as Coronavirus continues to ravage the world, World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) has revised its 2020 prospects for international tourist arrivals to a negative growth of 1% to 3%, translating into an estimated loss of $30 to 50 billion in international tourism receipts. Before the COVID-19 outbreak, UNWTO predicted a positive growth of 3% to 4% for this year.
This first assessment expects that Asia and the Pacific will be the worst affected region, with an anticipated fall in arrivals of 9% to 12%. Estimates for other world regions are currently premature given the rapidly evolving situation. UNWTO underscores that any estimate must be treated with caution and is likely to be updated.
According to UNWTO Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashvil, the impact of the COVID-19 outbreak will be felt across the whole tourism value chain but wants financial and political support for recovery measures aimed at tourism, and to include support for the sector in the wider recovery plans and actions of affected economies while highlighting that as an integral part of the Sustainable Development agenda, tourism will play a key role in future recovery efforts.
“Small and medium-sized enterprises make up around 80% of the tourism sector and are particularly exposed with millions of livelihoods across the world, including within vulnerable communities, relying on tourism,” he said.
UNWTO, however, calls for financial and political support for recovery measures aimed at tourism, and to include support for the sector in the wider recovery plans and actions of affected economies.
According to a statement by the organization, political and financial commitments are key to ensure that tourism can lead to wider economic and social recovery, as proven in past disruptions on the back of the highly resilient nature of the sector and its ability to bounce back strongly.
‘In recent decades, tourism has come of age and is now firmly established as an important contributor to sustainable development, economic growth, employment, and international understanding. As the UN agency responsible for tourism and sustainable development, UNWTO stands ready to provide guidance and support for recovery measures of its members, the private and public tourism sector, including organizers of tourism events and fairs’ the statement read.