UNWTO and ADB reveal strategies for tourism recovery
The World Tourism Organization has partnered with the Asian Development Bank to lead a conversation on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the sector globally
According to the latest UNWTO data, the pandemic caused a 73% drop worldwide in international tourist arrivals in 2020. The drop has been even more pronounced in Asia-Pacific, where the ADB estimates a decrease of more than 80 % by 2020, as many Asian countries continued to impose strict travel restrictions. This sudden drop has put the sector's ability to drive sustainable development on hold.
Building sustainability and resilience
The special event at UNWTO, moderated by Anna Fink, ADB economist, explored how 'aid for trade' can be used to build greater sustainability and resilience in the tourism sector. Joining Matthias Helble, Senior Economist at the Asian Development Bank and Zoritsa Urosevic, Director of Institutional Relations and Partnerships at UNWTO, were representatives from the governments of Azerbaijan and New Zealand, and Suzanne Becken, a tourism expert from Griffith University.
ADB's Matthias Helble shared that according to ADB's latest estimates, a full recovery for the sector is only expected by 2023 at the earliest. The promotion of domestic tourism, as well as the creation of 'travel bubbles' that would allow trips to resume between certain destinations, were highlighted as possible strategies to boost recovery in the short term. The introduction of vaccine passages could further accelerate recovery. However, these measures should only be temporary and, ultimately, countries should prepare for full openness.
Short and long-term tourism support
ADB's Matthias Helble emphasized that a prolonged pandemic puts the survival of much of the tourism sector at risk. To help governments fund policy measures that facilitate targeted aid to households and businesses most severely affected by the pandemic, the ADB launched a $ 20 billion support package in April 2020. By the end of 2020, the ADB had committed $ 16.3 billion from this package in the form of grants, technical assistance, and loans to developing member governments and the private sector. At the same time, UNWTO has expanded its support to Member States in the region, including through the launch of the UNWTO Tourism Recovery Technical Assistance Package, which provides expert support to destinations along the historic Route of the Silk.
For a longer-term recovery, UNWTO's Zoritsa Urosevic highlighted the importance of developing a new financial architecture to adopt and build innovative, low-carbon, circular, safe and inclusive trade policies and instruments for recovery. At the same time, both the ADB and UNWTO reiterated the importance of international cooperation and policy harmonization, both to revive international tourism and to monitor and guide future growth to ensure that the sector harnesses its potential to boost tourism. sustainable development.