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Zurab Pololikashvili Zurab Pololikashvili

Allied Action: Tourism’s Restart Brings Hope for Millions

Zurab Pololikashvili, secretary-general, UNWTO, recently commented on the tourism restart, by saying:

“Global tourism has never been more united than it is now. Both in assessing the impact of COVID-19 and in looking at how we can restart tourism in a responsible way, based on the best that our sector has to offer: sustainability, innovation, collaboration and solidarity.

 It is more than three months since the World Health Organization declared the COVID-19 pandemic. The crisis continues to threaten jobs and livelihoods in tourism and beyond.

 The UNWTO led Global Tourism Crisis Committee supported our guidelines to restart tourism, and we are now transforming this determination into concrete actions for recovery.

 Our efforts are being rewarded at the highest level, from heads of state to landmark support from the secretary-general of the United Nations. Antonio Guterres identified the sector as a pillar of economic growth, recognizing UNWTO’s leadership as he told the citizens of the world that ‘tourism can be a platform for overcoming the pandemic’.

 Now, as each of the UNWTO Regional Commissions is coming together virtually during these weeks, we will pool our expertise and influence to restart tourism and so get the decade of action towards the sustainable development goals back on track.

 This round of meetings enjoyed the strongest possible start as ministers of tourism from across Africa met to back our plan for action. The UNWTO Agenda for Africa has been realigned to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 and to accelerate recovery. Building on this, ahead of their Regional Commission meeting {this week}, members from across the Americas will further their determination to advocate for tourism as a pillar of post-COVID-19 recovery.

 Such a commitment to international cooperation will be important as we move forward and rebuild confidence and trust. The World Committee on Tourism Ethics, an independent body convened by UNWTO, has stressed the importance of safeguarding the Global Code of Ethics for Tourism as travel restrictions are eased. Restarting our sector must be done in a timely and responsible manner, avoiding at all costs coming at the expense of fair and equal treatment of tourists. 

 As we join the world in celebrating this year’s Sustainable Gastronomy Day, chefs from every global region have given us a first taste of what to expect when we travel again, and highlighted the unique potential of gastronomy tourism to preserve unique culture and create opportunities for rural communities.   

 At the same time, our celebration of innovation and entrepreneurship makes clear that this restart offers the opportunity to reimagine not only how we travel, but how tourism can help build a better future for people and planet.”