UN chief calls for green, equitable restart of tourism industry

Published September 28, 2021, 5:52 AM

by Xinhua

UNITED NATIONS — UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Monday appealed for a green and equitable restart of the tourism industry which saw drastic decline earlier this year in some parts of the world thanks to COVID-19.

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres (Mark Garten/UN Photo/Handout via Xinhua / MANILA BULLETIN)

Tourism continues to suffer enormously under the pandemic. In the first five months of this year, international tourist arrivals dropped by a staggering 95 percent in parts of the world, and forecasts suggest a loss of over 4 trillion U.S. dollars to global GDP by the end of 2021, he said in a World Tourism Day message.

“This is a major shock for developed economies. But for developing countries, it is an emergency,” he said.

The tourism sector touches almost every part of economies and societies. It enables historically marginalized people and those at risk of being left behind to benefit from local and direct development. Tourism leads to prosperity and increases inclusive, sustainable development, he said. “With many millions of livelihoods in jeopardy, it is time to rethink, transform, and safely restart tourism.” However, he pointed out that climate change also severely affects many major tourist destinations, particularly Small Island Developing States, where tourism accounts for nearly 30 percent of economic activity.

“With the right safeguards in place, the tourism sector can provide decent jobs, helping to build resilient, sustainable, gender-equal, inclusive economies and societies that work for everyone,” Guterres said.

This means targeted action and investment to shift towards green tourism — with high emitting sectors, including air and sea transport and hospitality, moving towards carbon neutrality. And it means giving everybody a say in how tourism shapes the future of societies and the planet, he said.

“Only through inclusive decision-making can we ensure inclusive, sustainable growth, deliver on the promise of the SDGs (Sustainable Development Goals), and transform tourism to fulfill its potential as an engine for prosperity, a vehicle for integration, a means to protect our planet and biodiversity, and an agent of cultural understanding between peoples,” said Guterres.