The World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) hosted a high-level virtual meeting yesterday, bringing together key UN agencies, the chairs of its Executive Council and Regional Commissions, and private sector leaders. Tourism is the economic sector that has been hardest hit by COVID-19 and all participants accepted an invitation from the UNWTO Secretary-General to become part of a Global Tourism Crisis Committee, formed as UNWTO prepares to launch a global guide for recovery. The UNWTO-led Committee will hold regular virtual meetings, reflecting the need for coordinated and efficient action by the private and public sectors, governments, international financing institutions, and the United Nations.
Since the start of the pandemic, UNWTO has been working closely with the World Health Organization (WHO) to guide the tourism sector as it faces up to the COVID-19 challenge. This meeting, hosted in Madrid but conducted virtually for reasons of public health, further emphasized the call for international cooperation to underscore a united response based on the latest public health recommendations and reflecting the deep economic ripple effect and social cost of the pandemic.
“This unprecedented public health emergency has already become an economic crisis which will come at a social cost”, said UNWTO’s Zurab Pololikashvili. The Secretary-General added that tourism “is the hardest hit sector and all our best estimates have been overtaken by the changing reality”.
Without any certainty over how long this crisis will last or what the final economic and structural impact on tourism might be, all participants were united in their deep concern over the millions of jobs that are at risk of being lost. With small and medium-sized enterprises making up 80% of the sector worldwide, the wider social impact of the crisis will go far beyond tourism, making it a key concern for the international community.
Coordination is paramount
Tourism has proven in the past to be a reliable partner to lead recovery for societies and communities, but only if the economic policies of governments and the support packages of donor and financing agencies reflect how the sector touches on every part of society.
“The livelihoods of millions of people and their families are at stake, be it in urban centres or in remote communities where tourism is sometimes the main income generator and a vehicle for social inclusion, protecting heritage and kickstarting development”, Mr Pololikashvili said.
This requires political recognition and cooperation across ministries, involving the public and private sectors and set against the backdrop of wider action plans by financial institutions and regional bodies.
All welcomed UNWTO’s tagline to ‘Stay home today so you can travel tomorrow’, which is promoted on digital media through the hashtag #TravelTomorrow.
UNWTO recommendations for recovery
In the coming days, UNWTO will release a set of recommendations for recovery. The document will highlight the steps governments and other authorities need to take to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 on the tourism sector and to then accelerate recovery.
Yesterday’s meeting will be factored into UNWTO’s recommendations. These will be complemented by a dynamic component aimed at engaging with innovators across the world through an innovation challenge centred on tourism’s response. Launched with the support of WHO, this challenge will identify new ideas that can be implemented to help tourism return to sustainable growth.
Participants in Thursday’s coordination meeting agreed that this is “a shared challenge that can only be tackled by working together, with recovery dependent on a joint effort on a scale never seen before”.
Global Tourism Crisis Committee
The participants accepted UNWTO’s invitation to be part a global coordination committee which will hold regular virtual meetings to evaluate and advance recommendations as the situation evolves.
The UN’s key tourism related agencies will all be participating, along with WHO and the main representatives of the airline and maritime transportation sectors, as well as the private sector.
UNWTO members are a critical part of this committee, represented through the regional chairs and the chair of the Executive Council.
From within the United Nations, the virtual meeting was attended by WHO Director of Health and Multilateral Partnerships Gaudenz Silberschmidt (sitting in for Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus), the Secretary-General of ICAO (International Civil Aviation Organization), Dr. Fang Liu, and the Secretary-General of the IMO (International Maritime Organization), Mr. Kitack Lim
UNWTO Members were represented by the Chair of UNWTO Executive Council Najib Balala, Cabinet Secretary for Tourism and Wildlife, Kenya, and by the Chairs of UNWTO’s Regional Commissions: for Africa, Mr. Ronald K. Chitotela, Minister of Tourism, Zambia; for the Americas, Edmund Bartlett, Minister of Tourism, Jamaica; for Asia and the Pacific, Mohd Daud, Undersecretary of Tourism Policy and International Affairs, Malaysia; for Europe, Harry Theoharis, Minister of Tourism, Greece; and for the Middle East, Mohammed Khamis Al Muhairi, Undersecretary for Tourism, UAE. Special interventions were made by Reyes Maroto, Minister of Tourism, Spain, and by Ahmed bin Aqil Alkhateeb, Minister of Tourism of Saudi Arabia.
Representing the private sector were the Chair of the Board of UNWTO Affiliate Members and also Director of IFEMA Ana Larrañaga; Alexandre de Juniac, Director-General of the International Air Transport Association, (IATA); Adam Goldstein, Global Chair, Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA); Agnela Gittens, Director General of the Airports Council International (ACI), and Jeff Pool from the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC).
Greek Travel & Tourism sector to approach full recovery this year, says WTTC
The World Travel & Tourism Council’s (WTTC) 2023 Economic Impact Research (EIR) today reveals the Greek Travel & Tourism sector is projected to near pre-pandemic levels this year.
The sector is set to contribute €39.2 billion to the Greek economy by the end of 2023, only 4% behind the 2019 pre-pandemic high of €40.8 billion.
WTTC is also forecasting that the sector will create more than 17,000 jobs this year, reaching the 2019 peak of 820,000 employed by Travel & Tourism.
A look back on last year
Last year, the Travel & Tourism sector’s GDP contribution grew by nearly two fifths (38.2%) to reach nearly €38 billion, representing 18.5% of the Greek economy.
The sector also created 5,000 more jobs, compared to the previous year, to reach almost 800,000 jobs nationally.
According to the report, the sector has now recovered 82%% of the jobs lost during the pandemic.
Last year also saw the return of international travellers heading to Greece, with the UK (14%), Germany (14%), and Bulgaria (10%) leading as source markets for international arrivals in Greece.
According to the data, in 2022, international visitor spend contributed €19.1 billion to the national economy, representing a year-on-year growth of more than 56%.
Julia Simpson, WTTC President & CEO, said: “The Travel & Tourism sector is very important in Greece, representing more than 19% of the economy. Tourism is recovering strongly with high visitor demand. Greece is one of Europe’s most popular destinations, and the data clearly shows travellers are heading back in their droves. Greece took a leadership position during the pandemic.
“The future for the sector in Greece is optimistic. By the end of this year, the sector’s contribution will be almost back to 2019 levels. Over the next decade, growth will outstrip the national economy growth rate and create thousands of new jobs over the next decade.”
What does the next decade look like?
The global tourism body is forecasting that the sector will grow its GDP contribution to €57.2 billion by 2033, representing nearly a quarter (23.6%) of the Greek economy.
Over the next decade, Travel & Tourism could employ more than 1,02 million people across the country, with one in four jobs supported by the sector.
In 2022, the European Travel & Tourism sector contributed €1.9 trillion to the regional economy, just 7% below the 2019 peak. WTTC forecasts the regional sector’s GDP contribution will reach €2.04 trillion in 2023 and be within touching distance of the 2019 highpoint.
The sector employed 34.7 million people across the region in 2022, an increase of 2.9 million from the previous year, but still 3.2 million behind the 2019 peak. WTTC forecasts the sector will fully recover the jobs lost during the pandemic by the end of 2024.
Italian Development Agency to invest €1.4 million preserving Kanyaka Island in Mozambique
The handbook says Kanyaka is in Maputo, Southern Mozambique. it further says that Kanyaka is situated nearby to Tóbia and Jona. It is an island which attracts tourists for leisure so the Mozambique government attaches importance to its development and preservation.
Rádio Mozambique reported early June that the Italian Development Cooperation Agency (IDCA) would invest around €1.4 million in the preservation and enhancement of the environmental heritage of Kanyaka Island.
Through environmental protection, tourism development and sustainable agriculture projects, the Kanyaka community would benefit from tools to better preserve the island’s ecosystem. The ‘MangAction’ project, within the framework of the ManGrowth initiative, was formally presented to the district of Kanyaka.
Project coordinator Frederica Ferrari said that the three-year project would deliver benefits to the entire island community. The initiative would be managed by a consortium made up of civil society organisations ICEI – Istituto Cooperazione Economica Internazionale, WeWorld Onlus, with Natura Mozambique, IUCN Mozambique and Abiodes (Associação para Desenvolvimen to Sustentável).
It aims to preserve and value the environmental heritage for a sustainable and resilient development in the bay of Maputo. The project was launched with the support of the Kanyaka Tour Operators Association (AOTUKA), whose chairman Angelo Manguele said that the biggest benefit of the project would be gaining knowledge of the best ways to preserve the island’s environmental heritage.
Mozambican President Filipe Nyusi previously inaugurated a new ferry boat that operates between central Maputo and the Island. The boat, named “Kanyaka” cost $2.7 million and was acquired in Greece. It has the capacity to carry 156 passengers, and five tonnes of cargo, including one vehicle. The boat, built in 2008, has a top speed of 14 knots (26 kilometres an hour).
With the trip from Maputo to Kanyaka now takes one hour and 45 minutes, compared with two and a half hours on the previous ferry, which could only carry 70 passengers.The islanders requested a new ferry when Nyusi visited Kanyaka.
The new ferry service, the President said, would overcome the common perception that Island “is too far away”. Poor transport links, he added, had made life on the island more expensive, and led to shortages in basic goods that must be shipped in from Maputo. The isolation of Inyaka also inhibited its tourism potential.
Nyusi said he was sure that the new ferry would not only reduce the suffering of the islanders, but would help improve the business environment in this part of the country. It was important, he added, to guarantee safety and comfort for the 6,000 inhabitants of Inyaka who regularly travel to and from central Maputo.
The boat now ensures regular supplies of basic goods, and of medicines, and reduces the time needed to take people who fall ill on Island to Maputo hospitals. “The island has a strong tourist potential,” said the President, “and Mozambican and foreign tourists can now visit in less time and with greater comfort. The 12,000 species of the marine ecosystem can be a source for ecotourism.”
The ferry is operated by the company Transmaritima, and Nyusi urged the company’s managers to design package trips for tourists visiting the island. The sustainability of the ferry service depends on the management capacity, not a burden on the government.
The country’s natural environment, wildlife, and historic heritage provide opportunities for beach, cultural and ecotourism. There are many different kinds of dances from tribe to tribe which are usually ritualistic in nature. The Makonde are known for their wood carving and elaborate masks, which are commonly used in traditional dances. Mozambique is located in southeastern Africa bordered by the Indian Ocean to the east, has approximately 30 million population.
Tourism: sustainability is the trend of 2023
Sustainability is a more topical issue than ever and people are increasingly adopting habits and lifestyles aimed at limiting their impact on the environment. The tourism industry also fits into this context: in fact, an increasingly growing number of travellers choose to spend their holidays according to principles of sustainability and respect for the territories.
This trend is reflected in the numbers: according to the latest data of the Swg observatory released in March of this year, four Italians out of five would be willing to experience sustainable tourism, thus preferring to stay in a certified environmentally-friendly structure at the same cost. As far as the environmental protection initiatives are concerned, almost 70% of the sample respondents are in favour of limited access and traffic restrictions and 73% would be ready to do without their cars and to use public transport or ecological vehicles.
The trend is also confirmed by the results of the study on the impact of sustainability on the Italian tourism supply chain conducted by Deloitte in partnership with AICEO. According to the data gathered from this research, 64% of respondents stated that the effects of climate change have led them to consider travelling in a more sustainable way: a percentage which reaches 71% among those under 25 years of age. The will to shift towards sustainable tourism is especially driven by the desire to protect the territory (60%) and reduce environmental impact through ecological means of transport (52%). The growing attention towards sustainability is also reflected in the strong recovery of train travel, which recorded over 1 million passengers a day in 2022. As clearly emerged at the BIT 2023, the International Tourism Exchange, Italy is a particularly popular destination for foreign tourists, whose purchases of Trenitalia products have increased by 25% in 2022 compared to the pre-Covid period.
The possibility to move quickly from one major city to another thanks to High-Speed transport and the vast offer of regional and Intercity trains precisely responds to the demand for a more sustainable tourism that is attentive to the environment, territories and communities.
Such attention is also shared by True Italian Experience, a digital hub whose goal is to promote, diffuse and develop the Italian tourism market: a tourism consisting of unique experiences built around the passions and interests of travellers, always in full respect of sustainability and social responsibility principles. Maurizio Rota, CEO of True Italian Experience, confirms such commitment:
“More and more tourists are attentive to the sustainability issue. As a result, True Italian Experience offers travel packages designed to interconnect the various Italian locations using the railway system. True Italian Experience provides packages aimed at discovering the territory and which can be combined with sectors such as cycle tourism and electric mobility to ensure intermodal solutions in line with the principles of sustainability and social respect.
In fact, True Italian Experience believes sustainability concerns both the environment and social responsibility. As a result, our travel packages favour the young start-ups scattered over small towns nationwide and which foster and develop tourism from a digital perspective that would not otherwise have a preferential access to the market. In particular, we value the tourism businesses, cooperatives and start-ups present throughout remote areas of our Country and which thus focus on the development of a sustainable and gentle type of tourism.”
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