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UNWTO warns ‘words alone won’t save jobs’

The UN World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) has called for urgent government action to support tourism, insisting “words alone will not save jobs”.

The UNWTO urged pressure on world leaders “to rethink tax and employment policies related to tourism” as it released a report highlighting the extent of the worldwide shutdown.

The Global Tourism Crisis Committee backed the UNWTO demand that governments “go beyond words” to safeguard millions of travel and tourism jobs under threat.

The crisis committee, made up of UN agencies, UNWTO and private sector leaders, was set up in late March.

UNWTO secretary-general Zurab Pololikashvili said: “Words and gestures will not protect jobs or help the many millions of people whose lives are dependent on a thriving tourism sector.

“Our sector has proven its ability to bounce back. We ask that tourism is given the right support to lead recovery efforts.”

A UNWTO Travel Restrictions report released alongside the call shows the extent to which Covid-19 has brought global tourism to a standstill, with 96% of worldwide destinations imposing full or partial border restrictions since the end of January.

The report notes that, as of 6 April, 90 destinations had completely or partially closed their borders to visitors and a further 44 were closed to tourists depending on their country of origin.

Pololikashvili said: “COVID-19 has impacted travel and tourism like no event in history.

“The benefits the sector brings are under threat. Millions of jobs could be lost and progress made in the fields of equality and sustainable economic growth rolled back.

“The UNWTO calls on governments to continuously review travel restrictions and ease or lift them as soon as safe to do so.”

It reported 100% of destinations in Africa, Asia and the Pacific and Middle East had imposed restrictions, 93% in Europe and 92% in the Americas.

The report identifies four types of restrictive measures: complete or partial closure of borders, destination-specific travel restrictions, total or partial suspension of flights, and requirements for quarantine or self-isolation or suspension of visas.

The Global Tourism Crisis Committee is working on a recovery plan for the sector and on efforts to raise consumer and investor confidence.

The committee includes representatives of the World Health Organisation (WHO), International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) and International Maritime Organisation (IMO), along with airline association IATA, Airports Council International (ACI), cruise association CLIA and the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC).

The UNWTO plans to launch a Recovery Technical Assistance Package to help member states build capacity and better market and promote their tourism in the months ahead.

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