The UNWTO Crisis Committee meets for the last time this year
Secretary General Zurab Pololikashvili called for more explicit commitment from governments and international organizations
The Global Tourism Crisis Committee has met for the last time in 2020, to continue advancing in coordination and cooperation between all parts of the sector. The virtual meeting of the Committee, established by the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) at the beginning of the pandemic, was organized by Portugal before its Presidency of the Council of the European Union, starting in January. It was accompanied by face-to-face meetings at the highest political level between the UNWTO leadership, Prime Minister António Costa, and the Ministers of Foreign Affairs, Augusto Santos Silva.
This seventh meeting focused on ensuring that efforts to restart tourism are coordinated and harmonized in terms of cross-border travel both before and after vaccination. UNWTO Secretary General Zurab Pololikashvili called for a more explicit statement from governments and international organizations that safe travel is possible and that tourism can be responsibly restarted. The meeting began with a message of support from the highest level of the European institutions. Margaritis Schinas, Vice President of the European Commission, applauded the coordinated approach to addressing the key challenges facing the restart of tourism, while emphasizing the importance of the sector to European economies and the measures already taken to support businesses and employment,
Looking Beyond Vaccines
Harry Theoharis, Greece's Tourism Minister and chair of the Committee's Technical Group, created in October, contributed to the meeting to advance protocol harmonization. In parallel, Nedret Emiroglu, Director, Strengthening Country Preparedness, Emergency Preparedness, of the World Health Organization (WHO) outlined the necessary steps for harmonized health and safety protocols for international tourism.
As COVID-19 virus vaccines begin to be administered, the Committee also participated in a special session on post-vaccine cross-border travel. Committee members stressed that while recent advances serve to boost confidence, the tourism sector cannot wait for vaccines to become a widespread reality.
Portugal hosted the meeting of the Global Tourism Crisis Committee a few weeks before it is scheduled to assume the Presidency of the Council of the European Union. Secretary General Pololikashvili received guarantees of the highest level during a meeting with António Costa, Prime Minister of the Portuguese Republic. UNWTO leaders thanked the Prime Minister for his government's strong and constant support for tourism and for recognizing the important role that the sector can play in the social and economic development of the country. This was followed by a meeting between the Secretary General and Augusto Santos Silva, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Portugal.
Rita Marques, Secretary of State for Tourism, reaffirmed the country's firm support for the UNWTO mission and its commitment to tourism as an engine of development and growth. In addition, the visit also covered the entire spectrum of key priorities, from boosting coordination to achieving high-level political support for the sector. Innovation, recognized for its potential to advance recovery and build a more sustainable future for tourism, was also at the fore when the UNWTO delegation met with Portugal's Secretary of State for Digital Transformation, André de Aragão Azevedo, to discuss emerging companies, innovation and their vital place in the future of Portuguese tourism.