On Tuesday, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called for a sustainable tourism recovery from COVID-19.
"It is imperative that we rebuild the tourism sector. But it must be in a way that is safe, equitable, and climate-friendly," said Guterres in a video message for the launch of his policy brief on tourism and COVID-19.
Greenhouse gas emissions related to transportation could bounce sharply if recovery does not meet climate objectives, he said.
He said that supporting million of tourism-related livelihoods means creating a safe and responsible travel experience that is secure for host communities, employees, and travelers.
He listed five focus areas: the socio-economic effects of COVID-19, growing tourism resilience across all of the value chains, improving the use of tourism technologies, promoting sustainable development and green growth and encouraging partnerships that allow tourism to further promote sustainable development goals.
Guterres said the tourism industry is one out of every ten people on earth and provides hundreds of millions more with livelihoods, improve economies and make it possible for countries to prosper, encourage people to know some of the world's cultural and natural resources and bring them closer together. Tourism is one of the world's largest economic sectors.
That is why it has been so painful to see how tourism has been devastated by the COVID-19 pandemic, he said.
Global tourist arrivals declined by more than half in the first five months of this year, with tourism exports losing some US$ 320 billion. He noted that a total of some 120 million direct jobs are affected in tourism.
He said that many job losses occur in the informal economy or in micro, SMEs which employ high numbers of women and young people.
To the developed economies, the recession is a great shock. However, it is an emergency for developing countries, particularly many small developing island states, and African countries.
Tourism has become a platform for integration, empowerment, and revenue generation for women, rural communities, indigenous peoples and many other historically marginalized populations.
Tourism is also a key pillar for the conservation of natural and cultural heritage. The fall in revenues has led to increased poaching and habitat destruction in and around protected areas, and the closure of many World Heritage Sites has deprived communities of vital livelihoods, he said.
Guterres concluded his message by calling for the restoration of tourism's position as "a provider of decent jobs, stable incomes, and the protection of our cultural and natural heritage."
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