Revitalizing tourism and confronting crises


CHENGDU, China/ MADRID, Spain – Tourism stakeholders’ preparedness and effective and accurate communication are among the key factors to substantially mitigate potential negative impacts of crises on tourism. Effective crisis preparation was addressed during the ‘International Conference on Revitalization of Tourism and Confronting Crises’ (Chengdu, China, November 16-18). Through UNWTO assists its members and the tourism industry in natural and man-made crises response. Specifically on the actual global economic downturn, UNWTO’s recently launched Resilience Committee will provide short-term analysis and prospects to help the sector better assess the impact of the current situation on tourism performance.

The conference identified the importance of global cooperation among tourism stakeholders to avert the challenges associated with the various forms of crises including situations of global economic slowdown.

“Tourism professionals have had to learn very quickly over the past decade how to deal with the aftermath of events that may negatively influence the travel public’s intentions of visiting affected areas,” said UNWTO deputy secretary-general Taleb Rifai. “In the face of the current economic scenario, tourism’s undisputed role as a global growth and employment driver can also contribute to stimulate the global economy. UNWTO’s Resilience Committee will monitor the evolving situation and provide analysis and forecasts,” he added.

The conference was jointly organized by UNWTO, the China National Tourism Administration (CNTA), the Provincial Government of Sichuan, China, and supported by the Pacific Asia Tourism Association (PATA).

The chairman of CNTA, Shao Qiwei, said that, “CNTA has a plan, including infrastructure investment, to support rural and disaster hit areas, domestic tourism promotion as the backbone of the country’s industry, international tourism promotion, stabilizing employment in the sector, and increased human resource development and institutional capacity building.”

UNWTO’s crisis response
UNWTO’s emergency response portal provides a link for the entire tourism sector, destinations and ultimately consumers. This portal tracks all kinds of major natural and manmade disasters – weather, pandemic, terrorism, and the like. It is based on state-of-the-art technology provided by UNWTO’s partner Microsoft.

In October, UNWTO launched a response approach to the current economic challenges and constituted a Resilience Committee. After a global assessment of the impact that the global economic downturn is having in tourism at the 2008 Ministers’ Summit (London, UK, November 11), regional response groups will look at the short- and long-term challenges facing the sector and its constructive role within the global economy. The first UNWTO Regional Conference focused on the Middle East and Mediterranean region (Sharm el Sheikh, Egypt, November 23-24).

The first full meeting of UNWTO’s Resilience Committee will be held at the end of January on the occasion of the Spanish Tourism Fair, FITUR (January 27, 2009).