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Barcelona Call to Action Maps
the Way Forward for Tourism


 
 
 
(L) Zurab Pololikashvili, Secretary General, UNWTO

Tourism has united around a common Call to Action, outlining a shared vision for the sustainable and inclusive future of the sector. On the second day of the Future of Tourism World Summit in Barcelona, UNWTO was joined by fellow UN agencies, government Ministers, and public and private sector leaders, in agreeing to seize the opportunity to restart and recover better from the impacts of the pandemic. The Call to Action brings together the solutions and plans put forward during the two-day summit, recognizing the importance of transforming tourism ‘for people, for planet and for prosperity’.

‘Tourism must lead the way’

As world leaders get ready to meet in Glasgow for the UN Climate Change Conference (COP26), it states that “tourism must lead the way in adapting, becoming more sustainable and transitioning towards net-zero growth”. Among the key players backing the plan are UNWTO’s fellow the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) and the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), along with leading businesses, destinations and governments.

UNWTO Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashvili underscored the need for “clear leadership to secure the financing necessary to build a more sustainable future”. He added that “the Barcelona Call to Action signals our sector’s readiness to lead the way, face up to and overcome challenges and build a better tourism for all”. SDGs as reference for growth

The Call to Action was announced at the close of the two-day summit. Organized by the Advanced Leadership Foundation, and the Incyde Foundation of the Chambers of Commerce of Spain, with the support of UNWTO, this was the first major event focused on looking ahead held since the start of the pandemic. Its focus aligned with many of the key priorities of UNWTO’s work, most notably an emphasis on securing more and more effective funding to help transform the sector, as well as on the importance of innovation and entrepreneurship.

The ten-point Call to Action includes a commitment to more fully integrating tourism into national and local action plans, ensuring the sector is engaged in issues such as housing, the use of public space and the use of infrastructure.

UNWTO and ICAO Partners


UNWTO and the International Civil Aviation Organization have agreed to strengthen their partnership with the aim of supporting the safe restart of travel and tourism and accelerating the two sectors’ shift towards greater resilience and sustainability.

Confirmed a week ahead of the UN Climate Change Conference (COP26), the new agreement underscores UNWTO’s call for enhanced collaboration in order to realize tourism’s potential to lead recovery and drive sustainable and inclusive growth. In the immediate term, UNWTO and ICAO will work to support aviation and tourism bounce back from the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Coordination at every level

At the same time, the agreement illustrates a shared commitment to enhancing coordination at every level, from policy research and management areas, to border management and facilitation of safe and seamless travel, one of UNWTO’s long-standing priorities. The Memorandum of Understanding also recognizes the importance of securing relevant finance mechanisms to accelerate the shift towards greener travel and tourism, with a commitment to joint advocacy and fundraising efforts. UNWTO Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashvili said: “Tourism and air travel are essential pillars of growth and opportunity, most notably for developing countries and communities. As air travel resumes and tourism restarts, both sectors must collaborate to support the livelihoods of today and to build a more resilient and sustainable future. The partnership between UNWTO and ICAO will allow exactly this.”

ICAO Council President Salvatore Sciacchitano added: “This agreement is an important step to help our organizations address joint data and research initiatives, the modernization and financing of aviation infrastructure, and the alleviation of economic regulatory constraints to enhance air connectivity and seamless travel.”

Building on past partnerships

ICAO has been part of UNWTO’s Global Tourism Crisis Committee, established at the start of the current crisis to unite the diverse tourism sector behind a common response and recovery plan.

Vaccines and Reopen Borders
Driving Tourism’s Recovery


 
 
 
Tourists arrive at airport for foreign visit

International tourism enjoyed signs of rebound in June and July 2021 as some destinations eased travel restrictions and the global vaccination rollout advanced in many parts of the world.

According to the latest edition of the UNWTO World Tourism Barometer, an estimated 54 million tourists crossed international borders in July 2021, down 67% from the same month in 2019, but the strongest results since April 2020. This compares to an estimated 34 million international arrivals recorded in July 2020, though well below the 164 million figure recorded in 2019.

Moderate rebound for most destinations

Most destinations reporting data for June and July 2021 saw a moderate rebound in international arrivals compared to 2020. Nevertheless, 2021 continues to be a challenging year for global tourism, with international arrivals down 80% in January July compared to 2019. Asia and the Pacific continued to suffer the weakest results in the period January to July, with a 95% drop in international arrivals compared to 2019. The Middle East (-82%) recorded the second largest decline, followed by Europe and Africa (both -77%). The Americas (-68%) saw a comparatively smaller decrease, with the Caribbean showing the best performance among world subregions. Meanwhile, some small islands in the Caribbean, Africa, and Asia and the Pacific, together with a few small European destinations recorded the best performance in June and July, with arrivals close to, or sometimes exceeding pre-pandemic levels.

Confidence in travel slowly rising

This improvement was underpinned by the reopening of many destinations to international travel, mostly in Europe and the Americas. The relaxation of travel restrictions for vaccinated travellers, coupled with progress made in the roll-out of COVID-19 vaccines, contributed to lifting consumer confidence and gradually restoring safe mobility in Europe and other parts of the world. In contrast, most destinations in Asia remain closed to non-essential travel. UNWTO Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashvili said: “There is clearly a strong demand for international tourism, and many destinations have started welcoming visitors back safely and responsibly. However, the true restart of tourism and the benefits it brings, remain on hold as inconsistent rules and regulations and uneven vaccination rates continue to affect confidence in travel.”

Tourism Earnings

Although destinations continued to report weak international tourism revenues in the first seven months of 2021, several did record a modest improvement in June and July, and some even surpassed the earnings of 2019. Among the larger destinations, Mexico earned roughly the same tourism receipts in June 2021 as in 2019, and in July posted a 2% increase over 2019. The same is true for outbound travel. Among the larger markets, France (-35%) and the United States (-49%) saw a significant improvement in July, though tourism spending was still well below 2019 levels.

Looking Ahead

Prospects for September-December 2021 remain mixed, according to the latest UNWTO Panel of Experts survey, with 53% of respondents believing the period will be worse than expected. Only 31% of experts expect point to better results towards the end of the year. The survey also shows that most tourism professionals continue to expect a rebound driven by unleashed pent-up demand for international travel in 2022, mostly during the second and third quarters.

Almost half of all experts (45%) continue to see international tourism returning to 2019 levels in 2024 or later, while 43% point to a recovery in 2023. By regions, the largest share of experts pointing to a return to 2019 levels in 2024 or later are in Asia and the Pacific (58%). In Europe, half of respondents indicate this could happen in 2023. The Middle East is the most optimistic, with a full recovery expected by 2022.

(For full story read SAFARI INDIA)