UNWTO’s Damning Report Casts Doubt On Africa’s Preparedness To Restart Tourism

by Olalekan Okeowo

United Nations World Tourism Organization, UNWTO, in a latest report has revealed that only 4% of destinations in Africa have introduced specific policies to restart tourism, lagging considerably behind Europe, Asia, and the Pacific as well as the Americas.

This was contained in the United Nations specialized tourism agency’s first Briefing Note on Tourism and COVID-19.

The Briefing Note, released on Monday (June 22), points out that destinations in Europe have led the way in introducing specific policies around restarting the industry, with 33% of destinations in the region have done so. In Asia and the Pacific, 25% of destinations have adopted restarting tourism policies, while in the Americas this figure stands at 14%.

Similarly, UNWTO Secretary-General, Zurab Pololikashvili, commended government’s support to the project restart tourism.

“The determination of governments to both support tourism, and now restart tourism, is testament to the importance of the sector. In many countries, particularly in the developing world, tourism is a major supporter of livelihoods and economic growth, and so it is vital that we restart tourism in a timely and responsible manner,” said UNWTO Secretary-General, Zurab Pololikashvili.

Recall that from the start of the current crisis, UNWTO has urged both governments and international organisations to make tourism recovery a priority. The Briefing Note has now indicated that, of the 220 countries and territories assessed, 167 have reported taking measures to mitigate the effects of the crisis.

Of these, 144 have adopted fiscal and monetary policies, while 100 have taken specific steps to support jobs and training, both in tourism and other key economic sectors.

UNWTO found that the most common form of economy-wide stimulus packages adopted by governments focused on fiscal incentives, including exemptions or deferrals of taxes (VAT, corporate income tax, etc.), as well as providing emergency economic assistance and relief to businesses through monetary measures such as special credit lines at reduced rates, new loan schemes and state banking guarantees to address liquidity shortage.

These policies are complemented with a third pillar to protect the millions of jobs at risk through flexibility mechanisms put in place in many countries, such as exemption or reduction of social security contributions, wage subsidies or special support mechanisms for self-employed.

Small businesses, which make up 80% of tourism, have received targeted assistance in many countries, according to the UNWTO Briefing Note.

Pololikashvili emphasises that, to restart tourism, restoring trust and confidence in the sector is crucial. In countries where tourism is back on the path to reignition, health and sanitary protocols, certifications and labels for clean and safe practices, and safety ‘corridors’ between countries are the most common measures

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