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Key Strategies Identified to Sustainably Improve Argentina’s Tourism Sector

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Newly published findings from the World Economic Forum identify key action areas Argentina can pursue to enhance its tourism economy. While Argentina is a top South American tourist destination, ranking third in the region, it has opportunities to really thrive through advancing some key strategies. These include cultivating nation branding with tourism assets at its core, improving travel infrastructure, increasing digital integration and ICT infrastructure, and leveraging its natural and cultural heritage to attract tourism.

Argentina’s Travel and Tourism Competitiveness study, finds particular opportunity for Argentina to develop its natural tourism sector. In 2018, the country ranked in the global top 10 of World Heritage natural sites of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, and in the top 20 for the number of known species. Despite its high natural tourism ranking, it only ranks 50th in tourism competitiveness globally, according to the 2019 Travel and Tourism Competitiveness Report from the World Economic Forum. This country analysis offers recommendations on how Argentina can unlock this under developed sector.

Argentina can leverage its relatively high-scoring natural resources to enhance its tourism. Global trends towards sustainable tourism options present an enormous opportunity for Argentina to design a holistic tourism offering that appeals to this growing market.

“If Argentina can demonstrate care for and sustainable development of its natural and cultural wonders, it could see a rise in visitor numbers and spend. This should be balanced by managing carrying capacity, so that an increase in travellers does not have a negative effect on the environment and the conservation of heritage assets.” said Lauren Uppink, Head of Aviation, Travel and Tourism Industries at the World Economic Forum. A special focus on policies and business practices that preserve environmental sustainability would signal to the international community that Argentina is determined to preserve its natural resources. This would entice a steady flow of loyal tourists searching for experiences in extraordinary locations.”

The report highlights other recommendations for enhancing Argentina’s tourism including:

Advancing digital integration and digital strategy:

Underlying ICT infrastructure and broad ICT adoption are imperative for growth of the travel and tourism sector. They not only serve to increase tourism receipts, but also allow a detailed understanding of travellers’ needs to a degree never seen before, providing enhanced segmented marketing opportunities.

Improving Argentina’s ICT can enable the improvement and tailoring of traveller experiences while saving costs for both businesses and travellers through better management of transactions and intermediary practices.

Developing destination branding and inclusive policy-making:

To improve its tourism, Argentina must define and promote its top tourism draws. Argentina’s brand should be guided by national values, cultural heritage and its rich nature in discovering its unique proposition. The brand positioning for travel and tourism is firmly linked to the international brand of Argentina as a country, underlining why alignment between the travel and tourism body and other governmental organizations is necessary.

For city destinations, Buenos Aires, like many other cities around the world, may not be giving enough weight to travel and tourism as a core subject of its urban development. Argentina should lean into growing interest in city specific tourism as a key component of its national tourism brand.

Infrastructure Investment:

Travellers to Argentina already benefit from tourism infrastructure that is above average for South America. Between 2015 and 2019, Argentina saw an increase in national air routes from 92 to 139 and international routes jumped from 91 to 153.

Despite its improvement in airport infrastructure, Argentina’s ground infrastructure is relatively poor which hurts its tourism competitiveness. Improving ground infrastructure throughout the country will improve its appeal to tourists who are looking for greater ease of access once in the country.

“Infrastructure is a core pillar in growing the travel and tourism industry” said Martin Eurnekian, CEO of Corporacion America Airports and President of Aeropuertos Argentina 2000. Better airports are crucial to provide safer services and enhance users’ experiences. Our focus is on fostering tourism in the country and the commercial aviation sector. This sector should generate jobs and develop so that it may contribute to our country’s growth. The challenge is to articulate the efforts and the interests of the different stakeholders in the industry, from both the public and the private sector, to attain sustainable development in our business.”

The travel and tourism industry is a proven engine of economic growth. These interventions can help Argentina improve its travel competitiveness in the region and globally. Inclusive and sustainably policymaking is critical for a country’s long-term tourism competitiveness.

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UNWTO Launches Comprehensive Tourism Recovery Tracker

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As growing numbers of countries around the world ease restrictions on travel, the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) has launched a new Tourism Recovery Tracker to support global tourism. This represents the latest concrete action undertaken by the United Nations specialized agency as it leads the response of global tourism and guides recovery.

The most comprehensive tourism dashboard to date, the Tracker is the result of a partnership between international organizations and the private sector. Available for free, it covers key tourism performance indicators by month, regions and subregions allowing for a real time comparison of the sector recovery across the world and industries. 

All key tourism data in one place

The UNWTO Tourism Recovery Tracker compiles all the relevant data in one place, giving governments and the private businesses the ability to track the recovery of  tourism at global and regional level, alongside information on the top destinations for international tourism The tracker includes data on:

  • international tourist arrivals
  • seat capacity in international and domestic air routes,
  • air travel bookings,
  • hotel searches and bookings,
  • occupancy rates and
  • demand for short term rentals

The UNWTO Tourism Recovery Tracker is available for free and is a collaborative effort by a group of partners including the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO), ForwardKeys, STR, Sojern and AIRDNA.

According to UNWTO latest World Tourism Barometer, the massive drop in international travel demand over the period January-June 2020 translates into a loss of 440 million international arrivals and about US$ 460 billion in export revenues from international tourism. This is around five times the loss in international tourism receipts recorded in 2009 amid the global economic and financial crisis.

The Tracker was announced on the back of the 112th Session of the UNWTO Executive Council, which met in person and virtually in Tbilisi, Georgia, to work together to guide the sustainable and responsible recovery of tourism from the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.

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International Tourist Numbers Down 65% in First Half of 2020

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International tourist arrivals plunged 93% in June when compared to 2019, with the latest data from the World Tourism Organization showing the severe impact COVID-19 has had on the sector. According to the new issue of the World Tourism Barometer from the United Nations specialized agency, international tourist arrivals dropped by 65% during the first half of the year. This represents an unprecedented decrease, as countries around the world closed their borders and introduced travel restrictions in response to the pandemic.

Over recent weeks, a growing number of destinations have started to open up again to international tourists. UNWTO reports that, as of early September, 53% of destinations had eased travel restrictions. Nevertheless, many governments remain cautious, and this latest report shows that the lockdowns introduced during the first half of the year have had a massive impact on international tourism. The sharp and sudden fall in arrivals has placed millions of jobs and businesses at risk.

Counting the economic cost

According to UNWTO, the massive drop in international travel demand over the period January-June 2020 translates into a loss of 440 million international arrivals and about US$ 460 billion in export revenues from international tourism. This is around five times the loss in international tourism receipts recorded in 2009 amid the global economic and financial crisis.

UNWTO Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashvili said: “The latest World Tourism Barometer shows the deep impact this pandemic is having on tourism, a sector upon which millions of people depend for their livelihoods. However, safe and responsible international travel is now possible in many parts of the world, and it is imperative that governments work closely with the private sector to get global tourism moving again. Coordinated action is key.”

All global regions hit hard

Despite the gradual reopening of many destinations since the second half of May, the anticipated improvement in international tourism numbers during the peak summer season in the Northern Hemisphere did not materialize. Europe was the second-hardest hit of all global regions, with a 66% decline in tourist arrivals in the first half of 2020. The Americas (-55%), Africa and the Middle East (both -57%) also suffered. However, Asia and the Pacific, the first region to feel the impact of COVID-19 on tourism, was the hardest hit, with a 72% fall in tourists for the six-month period.

At the sub-regional level, North-East Asia (-83%) and Southern Mediterranean Europe (-72%) suffered the largest declines. All world regions and sub-regions recorded declines of more than 50% in arrivals in January-June 2020. The contraction of international demand is also reflected in double-digit declines in international tourism expenditure among large markets. Major outbound markets such as the United States and China continue to be at a standstill, though some markets such as France and Germany have shown some improvement in June. 

Looking ahead, it seems likely that reduced travel demand and consumer confidence will continue to impact results for the rest of the year. In May, UNWTO outlined three possible scenarios, pointing to declines of 58% to 78% in international tourist arrivals in 2020. Current trends through August point to a drop in demand closer to 70% (Scenario 2), especially now as some destinations re-introduce restrictions on travel.

The extension of the scenarios to 2021 point to a change in trend next year, based on the assumptions of a gradual and linear lifting of travel restrictions, the availability of a vaccine or treatment and a return of traveller confidence. Nonetheless, despite this, the return to 2019 levels in terms of tourist arrivals would take between 2 to 4 years.

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Global Community Unites to Celebrate “Tourism and Rural Development”

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The 2020 edition of World Tourism Day will celebrate the unique role that tourism plays in providing opportunities outside of big cities and preserving cultural and natural heritage all around the world.

Celebrated on 27 September with the theme of Tourism and Rural Development, this year’s international day of observation comes at a critical moment, as countries around the world look to tourism to drive recovery, including in rural communities where the sector is a leading employer and economic pillar.

The 2020 edition also comes as governments look to the sector to drive recovery from the effects of the pandemic and with the enhanced recognition of tourism at the highest United Nations level. This was most notably illustrated with the recent release of a landmark Policy Brief on tourism from UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres in which he explained that “for rural communities, indigenous peoples and many other historically marginalized populations, tourism has been a vehicle for integration, empowerment and generating income.”

Historic International Cooperation

For the first time in the 40-year history of World Tourism Day, the official celebration will not be hosted by a single Member State of the United Nations specialized agency. Instead, nations from the Mercosur bloc (Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay, with Chile joining with observer status) will serve as joint hosts. This co-hosting agreement exemplifies the spirit of international solidarity that runs through tourism and which UNWTO has recognized as essential for recovery.

UNWTO Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashvili said: “All around the world, tourism empowers rural communities, providing jobs and opportunity, most notably for women and youth. Tourism also enables rural communities to hold onto their unique cultural heritage and traditions, and the sector is vital for safeguarding habitat and endangered species. This World Tourism Day is a chance to recognize the role tourism plays outside of major cities and its ability to build a better future for all.”

Rural areas hit hard by COVID-10

For countless rural communities around the world, tourism is a leading provider of employment and opportunities. In many places, it is one of the few viable economic sectors. Moreover, development through tourism can also keep rural communities alive. It is estimated that by 2050, 68% of the world population will live in urban areas, while 80% of those currently living in ‘extreme poverty’ live outside of towns and cities.

The situation is particularly hard for youth: young people in rural communities are three times more likely to be unemployed than older adults. Tourism is a lifeline, offering young people a chance to earn a living without having to migrate either within their home countries or abroad.

World Tourism Day 2020 will once again be celebrated by UNWTO’s Member States in all global regions as well as by cities and other destinations and by private sector organizations and individual tourists. It comes as communities in rural areas also struggle with the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. These communities are usually much less-prepared to deal with the short and longer-term impacts of the crisis. This is due to a number of factors, including their aging populations, lower income levels and the continuing ‘digital divide’. Tourism offers a solution to all of these challenges.  

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