As the tourism industry faces the worst slump in modern history, tourism leaders from 142 countries met to endorse a “Roadmap for Recovery” in a bid to boost global travel. The initiative from the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) is being launched as 700 people gather for the 18th session of the global tourism body’s General Assembly being held in Kazakhstan.
At the event, 53 tourism ministers or representatives endorsed the “Roadmap for Recovery.” The initiative calls on world leaders to prioritize tourism in the economic agenda and use it as a vehicle to create and sustain jobs. There is also a push to capitalize on the growing green economy.
UNWTO data shows some moderation in declining international arrivals for the first half of this year. In addition, the tourism body’s panel of experts is seeing stronger confidence in the marketplace. International arrivals declined by four percent in July this year, a relative improvement when compared to decreases of ten percent in May and seven percent in June.
To date, over 70 countries have already implemented measures to stimulate tourism, and now the UNWTO is calling on world leaders to prioritize tourism and embrace its “Roadmap for Recovery.”
Tourism provides more than 75 million jobs globally; 30 percent of the world’s exports, which is equivalent to US$1 trillion a year, and accounts for up to 45 percent of the total exports of services in developing countries.
A sharp reduction in business activity, disposable income, and a rise in unemployment, particularly in key source markets have hit tourism hard this year.
“Tourism is among the major socio-economic phenomena of our times and rightly occupies an important place on the United Nations agenda,” said UN secretary general, Ban Ki-moon in a message presented to the assembly. “Efforts to make tourism more sustainable can help the world address climate change, achieve the Millennium Development Goals, and build a greener economy.”
Global earnings from the sector have been suffering slightly more than arrivals, as consumers trade down, stay closer to home, and travel for shorter periods. Recommendations made by the UNWTO such as travel facilitation, tax rebates, or credits have already been employed by many countries.
“This sector ensures a significant inflow of foreign investment, creates work, and helps economic revival in many countries and regions of the world,” said the president of Kazakhstan, Nursultan Nazarbayev, at the official opening at the Palace of Peace and Concord in Astana.