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UN chief calls for sustainable recovery of tourism from COVID-19

SecretaryGeneral of the United Nations Antonio Guterres speaks at UN Headquarters in theManhattan borough of New York, US, Feb 28, 2020. [Photo/Agencies]


UNITED NATIONS - UN Secretary-GeneralAntonio Guterres on Tuesday called for the recovery of tourism from COVID-19 ina sustainable way.

"It is imperative that we rebuildthe tourism sector. But it must be in a way that is safe, equitable and climatefriendly," said Guterres in a video message for the launch of his policybrief on tourism and COVID-19.

Transport-related greenhouse gasemissions could rebound sharply if recovery is not aligned with climate goals,he warned.

Supporting the millions of livelihoodsthat depend on tourism means building a sustainable and responsible travelexperience that is safe for host communities, workers and travelers, he said.

He identified five priority areas:mitigating the socio-economic impacts of COVID-19, building resilience acrossthe entire tourism value chain, maximizing the use of technology in the tourismsector, promoting sustainability and green growth, and fostering partnershipsto enable tourism to further support the Sustainable Development Goals.

Referring to tourism as one of theworld's most important economic sectors, Guterres said the industry employs onein every 10 people on earth and provides livelihoods to hundreds of millionsmore, boosts economies and enables countries to thrive, allows people toexperience some of the world's cultural and natural riches, and brings peoplecloser to each other.

That is why it has been so painful tosee how tourism has been devastated by the COVID-19 pandemic, he said.

In the first five months of this year,international tourist arrivals decreased by more than half and some 320 billionU.S. dollars worth of exports from tourism were lost. Overall, some 120 milliondirect jobs in tourism are at risk, he noted.

Many job losses are in the informaleconomy or in micro, small and medium-sized enterprises, which employ a highproportion of women and young people, he said.

The crisis is a major shock fordeveloped economies. But for developing countries, it is an emergency,particularly for many small island developing states and African countries.

For women, rural communities,indigenous peoples and many other historically marginalized populations,tourism has been a vehicle for integration, empowerment and generating income.

Tourism is also a key pillar for theconservation of natural and cultural heritage. The fall in revenues has led toincreased poaching and habitat destruction in and around protected areas, andthe closure of many World Heritage Sites has deprived communities of vitallivelihoods, he said.

Guterres concluded his message bycalling for the restoration of tourism's position as "a provider of decentjobs, stable incomes and the protection of our cultural and natural heritage."