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

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(11 Apr 2021)
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 UNWTO’s sister
UN agencies, finance and the private sector, discussed the Crisis
Committee’s 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 sector’s 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:
“UNWTO’s 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 Committee’s
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 Tourism’s 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.

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