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UNWTO Brings Tourism for Transformation to UN General Assembly

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UNWTO Brings Tourism for Transformation to UN General Assembly - TRAVELINDEXNew York City, New York, United States, May 6,2022 / TRAVELINDEX / The United Nations General Assembly has met for a first ever dedicated session on tourism and its key role in inclusive recovery and growth.

The High-Level Thematic Debate was convened by the President of the General Assembly, His Excellency Abdulla Shahid, in collaboration with the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO). In the General Assembly Hall, government representatives joined public and private stakeholders in recognizing tourism’s unique ability to drive positive change.

Now is the time to build resilient and peaceful societies and tourism can help make this happen!

Tourism for hope and opportunity

As the first ever UNWTO Secretary-General to address the UN General Assembly, Zurab Pololikashvili stressed that “now is the time to build resilient and peaceful societies and tourism can help make this happen! Tourism is a leading provider of opportunities because it is based on people, builds bridges and helps create a better tomorrow for people everywhere.”

Joining Secretary-General Pololikashvili in opening the session were the President of the General Assembly and UN Deputy Secretary-General and UNSDG Chair Amina J. Mohammed, who noted “Every part of the United Nations system, including the World Tourism Organization as its specialized agency for the sector, can leverage tourism to help us achieve the Sustainable Development Goals, from inclusive growth to gender empowerment and biodiversity protection.”

UN General Assembly President Abdulla Shahid also stressed the importance of tourism, particularly for small islands and developing states. He said: “We face a critical opportunity to not only reboot tourism, upon which so many are dependent for their jobs and livelihoods, but to transform it to make it more resilient, more sustainable and more responsible.”

Debating people, planet and prosperity

A Fireside Chat, chaired by CNN International anchor Richard Quest, reflected the challenges faced through tourism’s recovery, addressing how best to reconcile potential trade-offs between the need for economic growth and creating jobs with advancing efforts for overall sustainability.

The high-level debate also featured a special roundtable discussion focused on tourism for people, with an emphasis on inclusivity. This was followed by a roundtable discussion on accelerating the climate-friendly transformation of tourism. The concluding third roundtable discussion focused on re-invigorating investments in tourism.

Placing tourism in the General Assembly

On the eve of the debate, UNWTO Secretary-General Pololikashvili had met with UN General Assembly President Abdulla Shahid for discussions on tourism’s role in the wider work of the United Nations. President Shahid commended UNWTO’s work in guiding tourism first through the biggest crisis in its history and now through the sector’s restart and recovery. The high-level meeting also laid the foundations for the potential inclusion of tourism as a topic of annual debates or thematic sessions within the UN General Assembly.

First published at – Global Travel News

United Nations World Tourism Organization Members Suspend Russia

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United Nations World Tourism Organization Members Suspend Russia - TRAVELINDEXMadrid, Spain, April 28, 2022 / TRAVELINDEX / The Russian Federation has been suspended from the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), losing with immediate effect its rights and privileges as part of the United Nations specialized agency.

Meeting for a first extraordinary UNWTO General Assembly, Members debated the suspension of Russia from the Organization, as decided by the UNWTO Executive Council at its emergency meeting last month. The Russian delegation declined to step up and defend its position, and instead announced its withdrawal from UNWTO before the debate took place.

Read all the latest UNWTO News and Updates here.

The Assembly voted in favor of suspension, far exceeding the two-third majority required. The decision is effective immediately, while voluntary withdrawal is only effective one year after a Member submits an official communication through the appropriate channels.

Tourism is a pillar of peace and international friendship, and Members of UNWTO must uphold these values or face consequences, with no exceptions.

UNWTO Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashvili said: “UNWTO’s Members have sent a clear message: Tourism is a pillar of peace and international friendship, and Members of UNWTO must uphold these values or face consequences, with no exceptions. This emergency General Assembly shows that Russia’s actions are indefensible and contrary to the very principles of UNWTO and of international governance.”

Loss of rights and privileges

In total, 99 countries were represented in Madrid. According to Article 3 of the Statutes, all Members commit to developing tourism with a “view to contributing to economic development, international understanding, peace, prosperity, and universal prospect for, and observance of, human rights”.

Effective immediately, the Russian Federation will not be able to exercise the rights or enjoy the privileges of UNWTO membership. This means it will not be able to receive services from the Organization, including Technical Assistance, nor will the Russian Federation be able to participate in any UNWTO meetings or events, be permitted to put forward any candidates to serve on UNWTO’s statutory bodies, or to vote in elections to UNWTO organs or to propose a candidate to serve as Secretary-General.

Fulfilling Members’ requests

The first emergency session of the General Assembly was convened at the request of six Members and at the instruction of the UNWTO Executive Council. The UNWTO Secretariat then provided a comprehensive report to the General Assembly for Member States to take an informed decision in relation to Russian Federation’s suspension from membership, following the Organization´s Statutes.

Read all the latest UNWTO News and Updates here.

The UNWTO Statutes state that any Member State may be suspended if two-thirds of their fellow Members believe them to be persisting in a policy that is contrary to the fundamental aim of the Organization. A majority of two-thirds of Full Members present and voting at the General Assembly is required for a motion for suspension of membership to pass. Suspension is temporary and may be lifted, though only by the General Assembly and following the same procedure.

First published at – Global Travel News

World Leaders Call for Urgent Action to Protect the Oceans

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World Leaders Call for Urgent Action to Protect the Oceans - TRAVELINDEXBrest, France, February 12, 2022 / TRAVELINDEX / Tourism’s central role in advancing the Blue Economy was highlighted as UNWTO chaired a special session and joined a Heads of State panel at the One Ocean Summit, hosted by the French Presidency this week.

In a session on “Tourism in the Blue Economy” co-hosted with the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and France, high level representatives stressed how implementing a blue economy can combat the threats of climate change, plastic pollution and over exploitation of resources. At the same time, the panel, representing Colombia, Kenya, Seychelles and Palau, made clear how a stronger focus on sustainability can help deliver more competitive and inclusive tourism activities.

Addressing the Summit, UNWTO Executive Director Zoritsa Urosevic, said: “Tourism is one of the pillars of the Blue Economy and plays a key role in the preservation of oceans by providing financial incentives and mechanisms to protect ecosystems. But we can, and must, do more. As part of the recovery, tourism shall play a key role in the regeneration of coastal and marine ecosystems for resilience, putting people at the center of our efforts.”

As part of the recovery, tourism shall play a key role in the regeneration of coastal and marine ecosystems for resilience, putting people at the center of our efforts

Opportunity out of crisis

At present, tourism represents 40% of the blue economy – as the largest share in export value according to the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD). Global tourism’s restart and recovery from the impacts of the pandemic represents an opportunity for the sector to support the transformation of coastal and marine destinations towards more sustainable and resilient models that are anchored on ocean protection and responsible use.

Sylvestre Ragedonde, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Tourism of the Seychelles said: “The destinies of tourism and the blue economy must be intertwined to make responsible use of the limited resources. Our mother ocean should take a commanding role in tourism strategies. For the Seychelles, the blue economy represents a holistic approach for the tourism sector and local economy.”

Private sector transition

Corporate leaders from Accor, ClubMed, Costa Cruises, Iberostar Group, PONANT, TUI Group and the Blue Climate Initiative joined policy makers in the call to prioritize ocean protection and made bold commitments to address plastic pollution through practical solutions in line with the framework proposed by the Global Tourism Plastics Initiative which supports transitioning to a circular economy of plastics.

Hervé Gastinel, CEO PONANT said: “We are happy to announce our commitment to the Global Tourism Plastics Initiative with the goal of eliminating single use plastics in our operations by 2022. Following the example of the polar exploration ship Le Commandant Charcot, PONANT is rolling out its “Single use Plastic” objective on all its ships.”

The workshop was moderated by Jorge Laguna-Celis, Head of the One Planet Network and closed with a call to action from Brune Poirson, Director of Sustainable Development of Accor, for tourism stakeholders to join the collective movement around the Global Tourism Plastics Initiative and the Glasgow Declaration on Climate Action in Tourism. Mr Laguna-Celis said: “The One Planet Network is pleased to partner with the One Ocean Summit to raise ambitious commitments from tourism businesses and governments. The Tourism sector can be a vector of education and prevention of plastics pollution and a source of sustainable recovery from the pandemic and generation of decent revenues for millions of people”.

First published at

First published at – Global Travel News

First Global Youth Tourism Summit Gets Underway

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UNWTO - First Global Youth Tourism Summit Gets Underway - TRAVELINDEXSorrento, Italy, February 5, 2022 / TRAVELINDEX / The Secretary-General of the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) Zurab Pololikashvili has joined the Minister of Tourism of Italy Massimo Garavaglia to officially launch the first Global Youth Tourism Summit.

Set to take place in Sorrento, Italy from 27 June to 3 July, the Summit will bring children and youth from every global region together, giving them a platform to share their vision and hopes for the sector. In line with UNWTO’s commitment to youth empowerment, the initiative will also allow participants to network with leaders from the worlds of politics and business, making them a part of the decision-making process as tourism fulfils its potential as a driver of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

Welcoming the first participants, UNWTO Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashvili emphasized that “tourism is a proven source of opportunity for young people – in cities and in rural communities, from every educational background and in every global region.”

Tourism is a proven source of opportunity for young people – in cities and in rural communities, from every educational background and in every global region

Minister of Tourism Garavaglia added: “Young people can play a major role in overcoming the crisis facing the tourism sector. They can also be an active agent of recovery and change and play a leading role in the transition to a more sustainable tourism, which is an essential if we want to achieve sustainable development. We are all looking forward to welcoming you to wonderful Sorrento.”

The young participants were also greeted by the UNWTO Ambassador for Responsible Tourism and celebrated football star Didier Drogba, who encouraged them to be the protagonists of tourism’s future and wished them all the best for the upcoming activities.

Online learning and sector-wide expertise

The launch of the Global Youth Tourism Summit coincides with the European Year of Youth. The GYTS series will include several webinars during which the participants will to learn about tourism and sustainability, culture and gastronomy, innovation and climate action, and other relevant topics.

The Italian national tourism agency (ENIT) and the regionof  Campania joined forces with the Ministry to support the implementation of the first edition of the Global Youth Tourism Summit. Private stakeholders, including the Global Tourism Economy Research Centre and Bella Vista Institute of Higher Education, have also recognized the importance of the initiative.

First published at

First published at – Global Travel News

UNWTO: Blanket Travel Restrictions Don’t Work

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UNWTO: Blanket Travel Restrictions Don’t Work - TRAVELINDEXMadrid, Spain, January 26, 2022 / TRAVELINDEX / The World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) has welcomed the call of its sister UN agency World Health Organization (WHO) for restrictions on travel to be lifted or eased.

Citing the varied global  responses to the emergence of the of the Omicron variant of COVID-19, WHO has reiterated that restrictions on travel are not effective in suppressing the international spread. In line with UNWTO’s recurring warning against the use of blanket restrictions, the 10th meeting of the WHO’s International Health Regulations Emergency Committee (Geneva, 19 January) expressed concern that such measures can cause economic and social harm. They may also “discourage transparent and rapid reporting of emerging Variants of Concern”, the WHO added.

The Committee also noted that measures applied to international travellers such as testing, isolation and quarantine, and vaccinations, should be based on “risk assessments and avoid placing the financial burden on international travellers in accordance with Article 40 of the IHR”.

When it comes to stopping the spread of new virus variants, blanket travel restrictions are simply counterproductive

UNWTO Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashvili says: “When it comes to stopping the spread of new virus variants, blanket travel restrictions are simply counterproductive. In fact, by cutting the lifeline of tourism, these restrictions do more harm than good, especially in destinations reliant on international tourists for jobs, economic wellbeing and sustainable change.”

The United Nations World Economic Situation and Prospects Report for 2022 – to which UNWTO provided the official travel related data – has noted that in both developed and developing, recovery from the impacts of the pandemic is “uneven and fragile”. It also highlights the “substantial reversal in progress towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

“It is imperative we restart tourism and so kickstart recovery and get back on track towards meeting the SDGs while responding to Climate Imperatives,” Mr Pololikashvili adds. “UNWTO welcomes WHO’s new guidance, highlighting the ineffectiveness of blanket travel restrictions, and we also amplify their recommendations against using vaccination status as the sole condition for welcoming tourists back, especially when vaccination rates remain so uneven.”

First published at – Global Travel News

First published at – Global Travel News

Dominican President, UNWTO and IE University Announce Education Scholarships

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Dominican President, UNWTO and IE University Announce Education Scholarships - TRAVELINDEXMadrid, Spain, January 20, 2022 / TRAVELINDEX / UNWTO and IE University continue to build on their shared commitment to nurturing tourism talent and promoting accessible education with the announcement of new scholarships to the UNWTO Online Academy. In line with the Organization’s focus on expanding access to training and skills development, and in close collaboration with IE University, the Government of the Dominican Republic will make 300 scholarships available to students from this leading tourism destination.

Read all the latest UNWTO News and Updates here.

The scholarships are funded by the Government of the Dominican Republic and were announced by the country’s President Luis Abinader and Minister of Tourism David Collado, together with UNWTO Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashvili, and Diego del Alcázar Benjumea, CEO of IE University, during a visit to the IE Tower, the new technological and sustainable campus of IE University in the north of Madrid.

The initiative will allow 100 students of all backgrounds to benefit from a wide range of online courses designed to help them gain the skills they need to either start their careers in tourism or advance in the sector. Courses are available in three languages (English, Spanish and Arabic) and delivered by some of the world’s leading experts, including from UNWTO partner IE University.

Welcoming President Abinader, Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashvili praised his Government’s commitment to tourism, noting that the Dominican Republic was one of the first destinations to re-open its borders, a move that protected many thousands of jobs and helped kickstart economic recovery.

Mr Pololikashvili added: “Everybody should be able to learn the knowledge and the skills they need to work in tourism and be part of our sector’s future. The 300 scholarship holders from the Dominican Republic will help further establish the country as one of the leading tourism destinations in the world – as well as a key ally of UNWTO in the Americas.”

The scholarship program signing event was attended by Diego del Alcázar Benjumea, CEO of IE University, who highlighted “the extraordinary contribution of tourism not only to the economic growth of vacation destinations and source markets, but also to the well-being of everyone.” He added: “the tourism sector will continue to grow strongly after the pandemic and a key element of that growth will be the training of tourism professionals.”

Read all the latest UNWTO News and Updates here.

To date, the UNWTO IE University Online Tourism Academy has welcomed almost 15,000 students from 190 countries as education continues to be a core priority of the UNWTO leadership.

First published at – Global Travel News

First published at – Global Travel News

UNWTO: Tourism Grows in 2021, Remains Far Below Pre-Pandemic Levels

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UNWTO: Tourism Grows in 2021, Remains Far Below Pre-Pandemic Levels - TRAVELINDEXMadrid, Spain, January 19, 2022 / TRAVELINDEX / Global tourism experienced a 4% upturn in 2021, compared to 2020 (415 million versus 400 million). However, international tourist arrivals (overnight visitors) were still 72% below the pre-pandemic year of 2019, according to preliminary estimates by UNWTO. This follows on from 2020, the worst year on record for tourism, when international arrivals decreased by 73%.

  • UNWTO reports 4% rise in international tourist arrivals in 2021
  • However, 2021 was another challenging year: arrivals still 72% down on pre-pandemic levels
  • Recovery needs stronger coordination and increased vaccination rates

The first 2022 issue of the UNWTO World Tourism Barometer indicates that rising rates of vaccination, combined with easing of travel restrictions due to increased cross-border coordination and protocols, have all helped release pent up demand. International tourism rebounded moderately during the second half of 2021, with international arrivals down 62% in both the third and fourth quarters compared to  pre-pandemic levels. According to limited data, international arrivals in December were 65% below 2019 levels. The full impact of the Omicron variant and surge in COVID-19 cases is yet to be seen.

Slow and uneven recovery

The pace of recovery remains slow and uneven across world regions due to varying degrees of mobility restrictions, vaccination rates and traveler confidence. Europe and the Americas recorded the strongest results in 2021 compared to 2020 (+19% and +17% respectively), but still both 63% below pre-pandemic levels.

By subregion, the Caribbean saw the best performance (+63% above 2020, though 37% below 2019), with some destinations coming close to, or exceeding pre-pandemic levels. Southern Mediterranean Europe (+57%) and Central America (+54%) also enjoyed a significant rebound but remain 54% and 56% down on 2019 levels respectively. North America (+17%) and Central Eastern Europe (+18%) also climbed above 2020 levels.

Meanwhile, Africa saw a 12% increase in arrivals in 2021 compared to 2020, though this is still 74% below 2019. In the Middle East arrivals declined 24% compared to 2020 and 79% over 2019. In Asia and the Pacific arrivals were still 65% below 2020 levels and 94% when compared to pre-pandemic values as many destinations remained closed to non-essential travel.

Increased tourism spending

The economic contribution of tourism in 2021 (measured in tourism direct gross domestic product) is estimated at US$1.9 trillion, above the US$1.6 trillion in 2020, but still well below the pre-pandemic value of US$ 3.5 trillion. Export revenues from international tourism could exceed US$700 billion in 2021, a small improvement over 2020 due to higher spending per trip, but less than half the US$1.7 trillion recorded in 2019.

Average receipts per arrival are estimated to reach US$1,500 in 2021, up from US$1,300 in 2020. This is due to large pent-up savings and longer lengths of stay, as well as higher transport and accommodation prices. France and Belgium reported comparatively smaller declines in tourism expenditure with -37% and -28%, respectively over 2019. Saudi Arabia (-27%) and Qatar (-2%) also posted somewhat better results in 2021.

Outlook for 2022

According to the latest UNWTO Panel of Experts, most tourism professionals (61%) see better prospects for 2022. While 58% expect a rebound in 2022, mostly during the third quarter, an42% vs point to a potential rebound only in 2023. A majority of experts (64%) now expect international arrivals to return to 2019 levels only in 2024 or later, up from 45% in the September survey.

The UNWTO Confidence Index shows a slight decline in January-April 2022. A rapid and more widespread vaccination roll-out, followed by a major lifting of travel restrictions, and more coordination and clearer information on travel protocols, are the main factors identified by experts for the effective recovery of international tourism. UNWTO scenarios indicate that international tourist arrivals could grow by 30% to 78% as compared to 2021, However, this is still 50% to 63% below pre-pandemic levels.

The recent rise in COVID-19 cases and the Omicron variant are set to disrupt the recovery and affect confidence through early 2022 as some countries reintroduce travel bans and restrictions for certain markets. At the same time, the vaccination roll-out remains uneven and many destinations still have their borders completely closed, mostly in Asia and the Pacific. A challenging economic environment could put additional pressure on the effective recovery of international tourism, with the surge in oil prices, increase in inflation, potential rise in interest rates, high debt volumes and the continued disruption in supply chains. However, the ongoing tourism recovery in many markets, mostly in Europe and the Americas, coupled with the widespread vaccination rollout and a major coordinated lifting of travel restrictions, could help to restore consumer confidence and accelerate the recovery of international tourism in 2022.

While international tourism bounces back, domestic tourism continues to drive recovery of the sector in an increasing number of destinations, particularly those with large domestic markets. According to experts, domestic tourism and travel close to home, as well as open-air activities, nature-based products and rural tourism are among the major travel trends that will continue shaping tourism in 2022.

First published at – Global Travel News

First published at – Global Travel News

UNWTO: Making Tourism Stronger and Ready for the Future

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UNWTO: Making Tourism Stronger and Ready for the Future - TRAVELINDEX - ZURAB-POLOKASHVILIMadrid, Spain, December 29, 2021 / TRAVELINDEX / This has been another challenging year for our societies, our economies and tourism. Many millions of jobs and businesses remain in peril, at the mercy of an evolving crisis and of the actions of governments. However, we are by no means in the same place we were when the pandemic was declared in March 2020. In fact, we have succeeded in laying the foundations to restart tourism around the pillars of sustainability, innovation, people and investing for a resilient future.

Working together

Over the past year, much progress has been made in rolling out vaccinations and in both detecting and treating COVID-19. We have also seen significant progress made in finding the right balance between keeping people safe and keeping the vital lifeline of tourism intact, as illustrated by UNWTO’s effective collaboration with the World Health Organization (WHO) since the very start of the pandemic.

A collaborative and multilateral approach is and must remain at the centre of capitalizing on the lessons we have learned in such a short space of time.

Ensuring harmonized travel protocols has been our message since day one. They are at the heart of tourism’s restart in many parts of the world, most notably in the Northern Hemisphere destinations during the peak summer months.

We are also encouraged by the resilience and determination coming from the tourism sector itself, as well as from our Member States.

Like never before, the pandemic has made clear tourism’s relevance to our economies and societies. Tourism is now part of the global conversation and at the heart of both national and international recovery action plans.

Expanding on our mandate

Interest in UNWTO’s innovation and start-up competitions keeps growing, showcasing the talent we have unleashed, and our shared readiness to hear new voices and embrace new ideas.

Our global innovation ecosystem is now made up of more than 12,000 start-ups from 160 countries, with US$83 million mobilized and 300 corporate partners currently working on new tourism technologies.

And UNWTO’s education programmes are reaching unprecedented numbers of people, welcoming more than 20,000 students from 100 countries in just 18 months. We promote lifelong learning thanks to partnerships with the world’s top five institutions in tourism and hospitality. Together, IE university, Les Riches, Glion Institute, Ecole du Casse and the Swiss Education Group offer 19 online courses in Spanish, English and Arabic – a true ‘online university of universities’.

Underpinning it all are data analytics on tourism investments powered by our partnership with the Financial Times. Through this, we have produced the first UNWTO tourism investment guidelines, which we are now scaling up to create guidelines for doing tourism businesses by country.

Restarting tourism is unthinkable without green investments. We are collaborating with institutions such as the World Bank’s International Finance Corporation and the Inter-American Development Bank. To date, more than 200 investors are part of UNWTO’s global investment network advancing critical work such as supporting hotel chains from 50 countries to become more sustainable.

For people and planet

Tourism is ready to do the hard work and live up to its responsibilities to people and planet, as demonstrated by the huge interest we have received in the Glasgow Declaration on Climate Action in Tourism, launched at the UN Climate Summit COP26. We are receiving a growing number of commitments to halve emissions by 2030 and to reach NetZero by 2050 at the latest, with Member countries, individual destinations, global companies and local players as well as media outlets, hundreds are on board, and counting.

And for people, we are making sure the benefits tourism offers are enjoyed as widely and fairly as possible. That includes establishing the sector as a driver of rural development, as celebrated through the Best Tourism Villages by UNWTO initiative. Launched to great enthusiasm this year, 44 villages from 32 countries were granted the recognition during our recent General Assembly, for showing a commitment to tourism development in line with the Sustainable Development Goals.

The 24th UNWTO General Assembly in Madrid brought our Members together to speak with one voice. Members commended UNWTO’s work done during the pandemic and its vision for the future of both the Organization and the sector, endorsing key initiatives such as a first International Code for the Protection of Tourists. This landmark legal framework is designed to restore trust in travel, a vital ingredient for recovery.

I am very grateful for the wide support of our Members, who have put their trust in me to serve a second term as UNWTO Secretary-General.

Mainstreaming tourism

In a crisis, you realize both what’s important and who your friends are.

Like never before, the pandemic has made clear tourism’s relevance to our economies and societies. Tourism is now part of the global conversation and at the heart of both national and international recovery action plans.

And support for UNWTO has never been louder or more visible. Over the past 12 months, we have strengthened our key partnerships, among them the G20 and G7, as well as ICAO (the International Civil Aviation Organization), FAO (the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations), the World Bank, IDB (Inter-American Development Bank), CAF, (The Development Bank of Latin America) and the EBRD (European Bank for Reconstruction and Development). We have further strengthened our voice at the top of the United Nations, including the landmark recognition of tourism and UNWTO by the UN Secretary-General.

Closer to our Members

UNWTO has made a significant leap to be on the ground next to our Members. This year we opened the first Regional Office for the Middle East in Riyadh, in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Built and opened in record time, it will serve as the platform to deliver our commitment to education and as a global centre for tourism and rural development.

Moving closer to our Members in other regions is an ongoing task and we will also work towards opening the first regional offices in Africa and the Americas.

As we advance preparations for these new hubs, we also welcome new Member States. Antigua and Barbuda, a destination where tourism is an economic pillar, has joined UNWTO. This shows that tourism-dependent countries look to UNWTO and depend on us, and we are ready to live up to this responsibility. Alongside this our network of Affiliate Members of the private sector, local administrations, destinations and academia, keeps growing.

So too does our collaboration with media outlets through new partnerships with Euronews, Xinhua and Travel Index, which build on our existing relationship with CNN International. As a result, the message of tourism for development will continue reaching a global audience of unprecedented size and diversity.

The future begins now

The way in which the pandemic has developed over the closing weeks of the year gives us all reason for concern and to again put public health above everything else.

But recent developments again validate our initial position: the only way forward is through collaboration and actions that are based on evidence rather than on speculation or political strategy.

UNWTO is in a good place to use the achievements of 2021 as a springboard for building a better tourism in the years to come, with the sector ready to return once conditions are right.

It is in this spirit that I wish everybody a safe and healthy 2022. UNWTO stands by your side, to keep on working together for our joint progress.

Zurab Pololikashvili

First published at – Global Travel News

First published at – Global Travel News

UNWTO Calls Against Blanket Travel Restrictions

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UNWTO Calls Against Blanket Travel Restrictions

Madrid, Spain, December 9, 2021 / TRAVELINDEX / The World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) of the United Nations calls out against the introduction of blanket restrictions on travel, as witnessed in recent days. This call echoes the concerns raised by UNWTO Members during the 24th UNWTO General Assembly (30 November–3 December). Countries from all global regionsexpressed their solidarity with Southern African states, calling for the immediate lifting of travel bans imposed on specific countries and for freedom of international travel to be upheld.

UNWTO takes note of the recent declarations of the United Nations Secretary-General and the Director General of the World Health Organization (WHO) regarding the unfairness and ineffectiveness of blanket travel in respect to the countries of Southern Africa.

Restrictions ineffective and discriminatory

In light of recent developments, UNWTO has once again reminded countries that the imposition of blanket restrictions on travel is discriminatory, ineffective and contrary to WHO recommendations. Blanket restrictions may also stigmatize countries or whole regions.

During the UNWTO General Assembly, Members States and partners, including voices from international organizations and across the private sector, echoed WHO’s advice that travel restrictions should only be imposed as a very last resort in response to changing circumstances. Furthermore, it was stressed that if restrictions are introduced, they must be proportionate, transparent, and scientifically based. They must also only be introduced with a full appreciation of what halting international travel would mean for the most vulnerable, including those developing countries and individuals who depend on tourism for their economies and livelihoods.

Coordination not discrimination

Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, UNWTO has called for coordinated and evidence-based approaches to balancing public health concerns with keeping the lifeline of tourism intact. Over recent months, such an approach has been shown to be the most effective way forward.

UNWTO notes that travel and vaccination levels are closely connected, as the emergence of new variants facilitated by low levels of vaccination has shown. As such, UNWTO calls on all countries to act in solidarity to ensure equitable access to vaccines for all, to recognize all WHO approved vaccines for the purpose of international travel and to facilitate access to patents for local production of vaccines.

First published at – Global Travel News

First published at – Global Travel News

At General Assembly UNWTO Points Tourism towards a Greener Future

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At General Assembly UNWTO Points Tourism towards a Greener Future - TRAVELINDEXMadrid, Spain, December 6, 2021 / TRAVELINDEX / Innovation, youth empowerment and tourism and rural development took centre stage as Spanish Prime Minister Sánchez Pérez-Castejón joined UNWTO for the third day of its General Assembly in Madrid.

With the opening days of the most important meeting in global tourism focused on UNWTO’s response to the impacts of the pandemic and uniting Members behind its leadership and Programme of Work, the third day looked ahead to a more sustainable and inclusive future for the sector. Addressing a special Thematic Session, “Building for the Future: Innovation, Education and Rural Development”, Prime Minister Sánchez recognized the importance of the sector for providing opportunities outside of cities, both in Spain and worldwide, while also reaffirming his Government’s support for UNWTO’s mission.

Also addressing delegates, UNWTO Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashvili said: “If we are serious about ‘leaving nobody behind’, then we must get serious about innovation, about education and about advancing tourism as a tool for rural development. That means empowering youth, supporting tourism talent, and also giving the best solutions the political and financial support they need to scale up and transform our sector.”

Ministers Advance Shared Vision for Sector

If we are serious about ‘leaving nobody behind’, then we must get serious about innovation, about education and about advancing tourism as a tool for rural development.

The session included a Ministerial Debate on ‘Politics to Foster Tourism for Rural Development’, with insights and inputs from the Ministers of Tourism for Colombia, Jamaica, Malaysia, Paraguay, Slovenia, Tanzania, Spain and Turkey. This was followed by a roundtable on entrepreneurship and innovation in innovation. Representing Members States were Ministers of Tourism from Chile, Greece, Japan, Jordan, Nigeria, Portugal and the United Arab Emirates, while the private sector was represented by winners of the UNWTO Global Rural Tourism Startup Competition. Concluding, a discussion on empowering the tourism leaders of the future, with reference to the UNWTO Students’ League, featured contributions from the Ministers of Tourism for Bulgaria, Lebanon, Maldives and Oman, as well as students themselves.

As well as looking to the future, the General Assembly also celebrated destinations that are already leading the way in making tourism a pillar of rural development and opportunity. From hundreds of entries, 44 villages from 32 countries were named as Best Tourism Villages by UNWTO.

Uzbekistan to host 25th General Assembly

In addition to the Thematic Session, the third day of the 24th Session of the UNWTO General Assembly once again saw Members meet to discuss and approve the Programme of Work for the next two years. On the agenda was the UNWTO leadership’s determination to move the Secretariat closer to Member States, as exemplified by the first Regional Office for the Middle East, opened in June this year and ratified by Member States at the General Assembly. Several Members expressed a wish to host future Regional Offices and so serve as hubs for UNWTO’s work in their regions.

Members voted for Uzbekistan to host the 25th UNWTO General Assembly, scheduled to be held in 2023 and agreed to examining plans to create a new taskforce to ‘Redesign Tourism for the Future’. Additionally, Bali in Indonesia was confirmed as host for World Tourism Day 2022, to be held around the timely theme of ‘Rethinking Tourism’, while the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia were similarly confirmed as the host country for World Tourism Day 2023, to be held around the year of ‘Tourism for Green Investments’.

The General Assembly also fulfilled its obligation with regards to elections, with Member States supporting nominations for new members to serve on the World Committee on Tourism Ethics. Furthermore, 17 countries were confirmed to sit on the UNWTO Executive Council from 2021 to 2025, with Puerto Rico to serve as the representative of Affiliate Members.

First published at

First published at – Global Travel News