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Sun, 11 April 2021

Saudi Arabia Hosts UNWTO's 9th Global Tourism Crisis Committee

Saudi Arabia hosted the World Tourism Organization's (UNWTO) ninth Crisis Committee meeting last week.

The committee was convened to discuss how to harmonize travel and health protocols, as well as financing for businesses struggling to survive.

Committee members, drawn from political leadership, international organizations, including UNWTOs sister UN agencies, finance and the private sector, discussed the Crisis Committees Recommendations, which focus on four core areas: the resumption of safe, cross-border travel; promoting safe travel at all points of the tourist journey; providing liquidity to tourism businesses and protecting jobs, and restoring confidence in travel.

Saudia Boeing 787-9 reg: HZ-AR12. Picture by Steven Howard of TravelNewsAsia.com Click to enlarge.

Opening the virtual meeting, Saudi Arabia's Minister for Tourism, His Excellency Ahmad bin Aqil Al Kateeb, said, "Saudi Arabia has been collaborating with partners across the public and private sectors both regionally and globally to accelerate the resumption of international travel. The facilitation of safe and seamless travel is the only way to restore confidence among travelers and tourism businesses, which will ultimately be the drivers of the sectors recovery."

The committee backed the proposed EU Digital Green Pass as an example of joined-up protocols for other regions to follow

Addressing the meeting, EU Vice President Margaritis Schinas said that we can make summer 2021 the beginning of the post-pandemic era, one that is safer, more sustainable, more resilient and more prosperous. He stressed that the tourism sector can and should - be at the forefront of this effort, leading the recovery of the European and the global economy.

Mr. Schinas also outlined the work being done to raise consumer confidence in tourism, already devastated by issues surrounding cancelling and refunding travel services and noted: UNWTOs efforts to develop an International Code for the Protection of Tourists are most welcome. The landmark legal code is one of several key UNWTO initiatives aimed at restoring confidence in international travel.

Also at the committee, UNWTO and IATA announced the forthcoming launch of a new Destination Tracker, a tool designed tp provide comprehensive and up-to-date information on the restrictions and requirements of airlines and destinations, allowing tourists to make informed choices.

Recommendations for Recovery

The recommendations of the UNWTO Global Tourism Crisis Committee highlight the importance of basing policies on current international health and aviation regulations, including but not limited to provisions from the World Health Organization (WHO) and those the International Civil Aviation Authority (ICAO), most notably its Take Off guidance and the work of its Civil Aviation Recovery Taskforce (CART).

The recommendations also call for the creation of Public Health Corridors, the implementation of digital health solutions and the development of a common traffic-light system as a recognizable risk management framework.

In presenting the recommendations, the Minister of Tourism of Greece and Chair of the UNWTO Crisis Committees Technical Group, Harry Theoharis, said that this year we have more tools in our arsenal, including vaccinations, to address all concerns of travellers and people employed in the tourism sector."

Financing Tourisms Survival

Through the Global Tourism Crisis Committee, UNWTO also advanced on its work addressing one of the other key challenges facing global tourism, namely the sudden halt of tourism cash flow and the need to support businesses and protect jobs.

Along with ICAO and the WHO, UNWTO is one of the only UN agencies working with the OECD on its International Mobility Initiative. UNWTO is also working closely with the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD).

OECD and EBRD contributed to the latest meeting of the Crisis Committee, advancing coordinated efforts to both support tourism businesses through the current crisis and also to build future resilience and achieve greater sustainability, including through promoting green investments in the sector.

Also updating the Committee were the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) and the International Finance Corporation (IFC), with their representatives focusing in particular on the potential role of innovation, green investments in tourism and on supporting businesses, now and during the recovery phase.

See also: IATA Travel Pass - Exclusive Video Interview with Vinoop Goel

Editor's note: As the above video interview was conducted over the internet, I would like to apologise that the audio and visual quality are not up to the same HD/UHD quality that it normally would be. Hopefully it won't be too long until we are once again conducting exclusive video interviews in person, but for now we have to make do with what we have. Thank you.

See latest Travel Industry News, Video Interviews, Podcasts and other news regarding: COVID19, UNWTO, IATA, WHO, Saudi Arabia.

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