UNWTO Secretary-General Message, 23 October 2020
The United Nations, of which UNWTO is proud to be a part, was established to promote peace among nations and allow us to work together to build a better future for all.
75 years on, this mission is more relevant than ever.
The ideals that lie at the heart of the United Nations system: solidarity, cooperation and the drive for equality are the same ideals needed to ensure our recovery from the devastating effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.
This is true for every part of our societies, not least for tourism. Around the world, many millions of people are eagerly waiting for tourism to restart. For many, their livelihoods depend on it.
For this reason, UNWTO has pledged to not stand still. Even where others urge caution, we have a responsibility to move forwards – and to bring the rest of the sector, as well as political leaders, with us.
The sixth meeting of our Global Tourism Crisis Committee emphasized just how determined every part of global tourism is to get moving again. Once again, through the Committee we succeeded in bringing together a wide range of voices, reflecting the diversity of tourism itself. These included both political and business leaders – those in a position to transform ideas into action.
Only together are we stronger. We will draw on both the power of the private sector and the determination of governments to introduce a new set of Common Safety Protocols for tourism.
These will provide a clear and harmonized set of safety and hygiene protocols, vital if we are to raise confidence in international travel.
At the same time, we realize that people don’t just want to feel safe when they travel. They also want to be reassured that they will be supported in times of uncertainty.
For this reason, UNWTO will also establish an International Code for the Protection of Tourists, and we are working to ensure all our Member States, not just those in the EU zone, are included in plans to for the safe relaunch of free movement of people across Europe.
All of our actions are guided by clear, objective analysis of this rapidly-evolving situation.
Just as misinformation about the health risks of COVID-19 puts lives at risk, so too does misinformation about the safety of international travel place livelihoods in jeopardy.
From the very start of this crisis, UNWTO has been the trusted, verified source of information for every part of our sector, as well as for governments and international organizations. Our data and insights have guided tourism’s response and now inform its recovery.
As the UN celebrates 75 years of cooperation and progress, we stand behind the “Verified” campaign, launched by Secretary-General António Guterres to prevent the spread of false information while at the same time respecting freedom of opinion.
International travel can return safely – we have seen this first-hand through the return of in-person events. And we are working closely with airlines, airports and tourism accommodation providers to make clear that tourism is proactively leading the way in adapting to our new reality.
The benefits of restarting tourism will be felt far beyond our sector. It will help kickstart the recovery of our economies and societies.
And it will help us begin the next 75 years of the United Nations’ mission to bring peace and prosperity for all, with the determination to leave nobody behind.