The United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) has urged member states to increase pressure on world leaders to rethink tax and employment policies relating to tourism and to help ensure businesses survive to help drive wider recovery efforts.

UNWTO Secretary-General, Zurab Pololikashvili, said the COVID-19 pandemic had shown the tourism industry’s strength of solidarity across borders but added that positive words and gestures would not protect jobs or help those whose lives depended on a thriving tourism sector.

“Governments have an opportunity to recognise tourism’s unique ability to not only provide employment but to drive equality and inclusivity,” said Pololikashvili. “Our sector has proven its ability to bounce back and help societies recover. We ask that tourism is now given the right support to once again lead recovery efforts.”

The UNWTO “Travel Restrictions” report notes that 96% of all worldwide destinations have introduced full or partial restrictions since the end of January. Pololikashvili has called on governments to lift the restrictions as soon as it is safe to do so for societies to once again benefit from the social and economic benefits tourism can bring.

Governments have an opportunity to recognise tourism’s unique ability to not only provide employment but to drive equality and inclusivity,” said Pololikashvili.

The Global Tourism Crisis Committee is working on a recovery plan for the sector that will be centred on open borders and enhanced connectivity while also working to raise consumer and investor confidence.

UNWTO will soon launch a new Recovery Technical Assistance Package. This will enable member states to build capacity and better market and promote their tourism sector in the challenging months ahead.