Connect with us

Tourism

Tough times for tourism, but UNWTO predicts holiday traffic will return

Avatar photo

Published

on

airplane travel

Tourism may have been brought to a near-standstill by COVID-19, but the industry – which accounts for 10 per cent of global GDP – finds itself in a unique position to help put the global economy back on its feet, once the pandemic has passed. 

That’s the view from the World Travel Organization (UNWTO), which is closely monitoring the new coronavirus crisis from its Madrid headquarters and collaborating with other UN agencies on ways to mitigate its impact. 

Millions of jobs potentially lost 

COVID-19 has impacted travel and tourism like no other event before in history”, said UNWTO Secretary-General, Zurab Pololikashvili, ahead of a meeting last Thursday of the agency’s Global Tourism Crisis Committee at its Madrid headquarters. 

That committee, which brings together participants from around the world via video-teleconference, is tackling such key questions as how borders will reopen, what mobility will look like and what tourists will be seeking when they emerge from so many weeks of self-isolation at home. 

 “With tourism suspended, the benefits that the sector brings are under threat”, he said.  “Millions of jobs could be lost and progress made in the fields of equality and sustainable economic growth could be rolled back.” 

Sector well-placed to lead recovery 

But he also emphasized that tourism – which employs one in 10 workers worldwide, and with a proven track record for resilience during the 2008-2009 financial crisis and the 2003 SARS outbreak – is also well-placed to lead future recovery. 

“Our sector will provide the jobs people need to bounce back and will drive economic growth that will help whole communities and countries to recover”, he said in a statement in mid-March. 

Political and financial commitments are key to ensuring that tourism can lead wider economic and social recovery.  The UNWTO is thus calling for financial and political support for the tourism industry, and for the sector to be included in wider recovery plans and actions. 

“For now, we must be patient and stand ready”, the UNWTO chief said.  “By staying home today, we can travel tomorrow. And travelling tomorrow will support jobs, celebrate culture and promote international friendship and understanding.” 

30 per cent drop-off 

According to UNWTO estimates, global international tourist arrivals in 2020 could fall by 20 to 30 per cent compared to last year.  That translates into a loss of $30-$50 billion in spending by international visitors. 

To put that in context, in 2009, on the back of the global financial crisis, international tourist arrivals fell by 4 per cent, while the SARS pandemic in 2003 led to a decline of just 0.4 per cent. 

The Word Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC), an industry group, meanwhile says that up to 75 million tourism-related jobs are at immediate risk, with the Asia-Pacific region expected to be most heavily impacted with up to 49 million jobs at risk. 

No room at the inn 

What’s more, 96 per cent of all worldwide destinations have put into place travel restrictions in response to the pandemic, the UNWTO said this week.  Some 90 destinations have completely or partially closed their borders to tourists, while another 44 are closed to certain tourists depending on their country of origin. 

Having said that, given uncertainty over how the crisis will unfold, UNWTO is stressing that estimates must be treated with caution, and that current forecasts might well need to be revised. 

Avoiding the airport 

Over at the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), the Montreal-based UN agency said this week that, according to preliminary estimates, the new coronavirus outbreak will see airline passenger numbers drop by 503 million to 607 million in the first half of 2020, compared to initial forecasts for the year. 

The biggest impact is expected to be felt in Europe and the Asia-Pacific region, followed by North America and the Middle East, ICAO said. 

On Wednesday, ICAO encouraged national governments to ensure efficient authorizations for the entry, departure, and transit access of flights intended for the repatriation of their foreign nationals and other eligible persons. 

Eighty percent of the global tourism sector is made up of small- and medium-sized enterprises, according to the UNWTO, which has long promoted the industry’s key role in fulfilling the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development

Big Apple no more?

Typical of these is a New York City travel agency run by Zhan Di that caters to tourists from China.  It had expected 22 tour groups during the Spring Festival (Lunar New Year) holiday season that started on 25 January.  Only two arrived. 

To make ends meet, Mr. Zhan has redeployed his small fleet of minibuses to deliver Amazon parcels, hopeful that if the pandemic runs no longer than three to five months, Sino-US tourism will blossom anew. 

“The epidemic situation is not only a big test for our industry, but also for the whole world,” he recently told UN News.  “However, I believe that the economy will recover quickly … because this is not a regular economic recession, but an epidemic situation.” 

“Therefore, I think the recovery should be very fast – and I am still optimistic.” 

Continue Reading
Comments

Tourism

DiscoverEU awards 35,000 rail tickets to young people this autumn

Avatar photo

Published

on

Today, the Commission is releasing the DiscoverEU autumn call, thanks to which 35,000 young people will receive a rail pass to explore Europe and its rich culture.

The call is open to applicants from Erasmus+ programme countries, from today at noon to 25 October at noon. In order to win a travel pass, young people are invited to apply on the European Youth Portal, answer 5 quiz questions and a subsidiary one. Applicants who have successfully filled in the selection quiz, born between 1 January and 31 December 2004 will be able to travel in Europe for up to 30 days during the travel period 1 March 2023 and 29 February 2024.

Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth, Mariya Gabriel, said: “2022 is the European Year of Youth and this is a crucial moment in European history. We need to focus on the younger generations, to offer them the possibility to broaden their horizon in order to build a more connected and tolerant world. This is what DiscoverEU is about. Through travelling, it allows young people to explore our diversity but also find out so many similarities.”

With the European Year of Youth 2022, the number of travel passes has been boosted. In total, 70,000 passes are made available this year. DiscoverEU is now part of Erasmus+, therefore participants from Iceland, Liechtenstein, North Macedonia, Norway, Serbia and Turkey are also eligible to apply.  

Recipients will continue benefitting from a discount card with more than 40,000 discount possibilities on public transport, culture, accommodation, food, sports and other services available in the eligible countries.

As part of the European Year of Youth, the Commission has launched the flagship initiative ‘Youth discovers culture thanks to DiscoverEU in 2022′. That is why on 25 May 2022, the DiscoverEU Culture Route was launched. It combines various destinations and cultural branches, including architecture, music, fine art, theatre, fashion, design and more. DiscoverEU travellers can visit the European Capitals of Culture, destinations added on the prestigious UNESCO World Heritage List, or holders of the European Heritage Label. Moreover, they can also stop at locations with the Access City Award label. These are cities that have gone above and beyond to become more accessible to everyone, regardless of age, mobility or ability.

Erasmus+ National Agencies support young people through pre-departure information meetings preparing them for their journey. Through these meetings, DiscoverEU aims to promote discussions on sustainability, culture, and European identity, among others. In addition, as part of the European Year of Youth, the agencies organise the DiscoverEU Meet-ups, an initiative launched in summer 2022 composed of an exciting cultural programme between one and three days across all Erasmus+ countries. 49 of these Meet-ups have taken place so far and will continue in future years.

As social inclusion is a top priority of the Erasmus+ programme, participants with disabilities or health issues can be accompanied on their journeys. Apart from the travel costs, additional individual help is also provided. This year, the Erasmus+ National Agencies are also launching the DiscoverEU Inclusion Action, allowing organisations working with young people with fewer opportunities, to apply for grant.

The Commission encourages sustainable travel by rail. Special arrangements are available for young people from outermost regions, Overseas Counties and Territories, remote areas and islands.

Background

The Commission launched DiscoverEU in June 2018, following a preparatory action from the European Parliament. It has been integrated into the new Erasmus+ programme 2021-2027.

Since 2018, nearly 754,000 candidates applied for 165,000 travel passes available. According to the past travel survey, 66% of candidates declared that they travelled for the first time by train out of their country of residence. For many, it was also the first time they travelled without parents or accompanying adults and the majority indicated that they had become more independent.

The DiscoverEU experience has given them a better understanding of other cultures and of European history. It has also improved their foreign language skills. Two-thirds said that they would not have been able to finance their travel pass without DiscoverEU. Participants are invited to become DiscoverEU Ambassadors to champion the initiative. They are also encouraged to contact fellow travellers on the official DiscoverEU group online to share experiences and exchange tips, particularly on cultural experiences, or on how to travel digitally and sustainably.

To apply, eligible candidates need to complete a multiple-choice quiz on general knowledge about the European Union and other EU initiatives targeting young people. An additional question invites applicants to make an estimate of how many people apply in this round who are born on a Tuesday. The closer the estimate is to the correct answer, the more points the applicant gets. This will enable the Commission to rank the applicants. The Commission will offer travel passes to applicants following their ranking, until the available tickets run out.

Continue Reading

Tourism

UN urges investment in clean, sustainable tourism

Avatar photo

Published

on

International tourism is showing strong signs of recovery, with tourist numbers rising to 57 per cent of pre-pandemic levels. On World Tourism Day, marked on Tuesday, the UN is calling for a major global rethink of the sector, to ensure that tourism is sustainable, and benefits local communities.

The UN World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) released encouraging news on Monday, with its latest World Tourism Barometer, which shows that international tourism arrivals almost tripled in the first seven months of 2022 (compared to the same period in 2021).

Cautious optimism

The agency’s Panel of Tourism Experts expressed cautious confidence for the rest of year, and into 2023, despite the uncertain economic environment: increasing interest rates, rising energy and food prices, and the growing prospects of a global recession, continue to pose major threats to the sector.

In a message released to mark the Day, the UN Secretary-General, António Guterres, hailed tourism’s ability to drive sustainable development, and called for more investment in clean and sustainable tourism, the creation of decent jobs, and for measures to ensure that profits benefit host countries and local communities.

Go green to survive

“Governments, businesses and consumers must align their tourism practices with the Sustainable Development Goals and a 1.5 degree future”, said Mr. Guterres, referring to international agreements aimed at keeping global warming in check. “The very survival of this industry, and many tourist destinations, such as Small Island Developing States, depends on it.”

“The restart of tourism everywhere brings hope,” declared Zurab Pololikashvili, UNWTO Secretary-General, in his address at the opening of the official celebrations organized for the Day, in the Indonesian resort city of Bali.

Mr. Pololikashvili described tourism, which employs around 10 per cent of the global workforce, as the “ultimate cross-cutting and people-to-people sector, which touches on almost everything we do.”

Report card

To mark the day, UNWTO launched its first World Tourism Day Report, the first in an annual series of updates and analysis of the Organization’s work guiding the sector forward.

The report contains updates on the agency’s activities in key areas including gender equality, sustainability and climate action, tourism governance and investments and innovation.

Representatives of the G20 group of the world’s leading economies, including tourism ministers, will meet in Bali in November. Ahead of the event, UNWTO has produced a set of guidelines for ministers, to enable them to support resilient and sustainable tourist businesses, which take into account human capital, innovation, youth and women empowerment, and climate action.

Ensure zero-tolerance for sexual exploitation: UN rights expert

An independent UN rights expert released a statement ahead of the Day, to call for Governments to ensure that the tourism industry is free from child forced labour, sexual abuse and sexual exploitation. 

Mama Fatima Singhateh, UN Special Rapporteur on the sale and sexual exploitation of children, warned that the COVID-19 pandemic, climate change and socioeconomic setbacks have caused enormous strains on child protection systems.

This, she said, has made children more vulnerable to sale, trafficking and sexual exploitation in the context of travel and tourism, especially in countries that have traditionally relied on the income generated from travel and tourism.

Continue Reading

Tourism

Samoa welcomes international travellers with airport celebrations as borders reopen

Avatar photo

Published

on

After years of the COVID-19 pandemic throwing international travel into turmoil, Samoa’s beautiful shorelines have once again welcomed international travellers on the first direct flights from American Samoa, Fiji, Australia and New Zealand.

Straight off the flights, passengers were greeted by the Minister of Tourism, Hon. Toeolesulusulu Cedric Schuster and the Samoa Tourism Authority Board of Directors and CEO, as well as the High Commissioner of Australia HE Emily Luck who was at Faleolo International Airport to welcome the first direct flight from Sydney/Brisbane.

Excitement ensued with a fresh ula offering and welcome by Miss Samoa and the Samoa Tourism team in traditional wear, the Return to Paradise Resort string guitar ensemble, and multiple cultural performances in the arrival hall and concourse by Samoa Airport Authority and Tasi and Alii’s.

Tourism Minister, Hon. Toeolesulusulu Cedric Schuster commented on the reopening saying “The past two years have been a trying time for the world over, but as Samoa reopens its borders, it is our acknowledgement that our internal protection measures are safe for our people and for the yearning travellers who are wanting to visit family and friends, and who are eager to explore our heritage and natural environment,”

“We look forward to hosting all visitors, and showcasing our culture and environment, and pray that we continue to be mindful of the necessary travel health advisories for all of our protection.”

Pre-COVID, Samoa welcomed 181,000 international visitors in 2019. Visitor spend in the same year totalled WST 528 million. 

Newly appointed Samoa Tourism Authority CEO, Pativaine Petaia-Tevita, shared her excitement and optimism for the return of international visitors to Samoan shores.  

“We are very excited to welcome back travellers on the first direct flights since our reopening. Samoa has been waiting for this moment for a long time and it was wonderful and uplifting to see passengers fill the terminal once again.”

“Our reopening is a special milestone which we celebrated in a special way along with the return of international visitors including family and friends.”

In preparation for the reopening, a series of developments and new processes were put in place to ensure Samoa would be travel ready, and that the health and safety of locals and international travellers remained of utmost priority. Samoa’s robust preparations include the achievement of high vaccination rates, training and upskilling for local employees, upgraded travel instructions and bolstered testing capabilities. 

Vaccination rates were pivotal in the decision to reopen, with the most recent data showing almost 93% of Samoa’s eligible population, aged 5 years and over, has been fully vaccinated. 

Big ticket attractions and much-loved natural treasures are primed and ready to receive the influx of travellers over the coming months, including the famous To Sua Ocean Trench, Piula Cave Pool, Afu Aau Waterfalls, Lalomanu Beach, and Samoan Cultural Village. 

For more information on Samoa’s travel guidelines, as well as inspiration on things to do while visiting Samoa, please visit the Samoa Tourism website.

Continue Reading

Publications

Latest

South Asia11 mins ago

The Taliban Finally Granted Permission to the Former President Karzai to leave Afghanistan

Based on the information, the former president of Afghanistan, Hamid Karzai, was permitted to leave the country. At a time,...

South Asia5 hours ago

The Charisma and Chaos of Imran Khan

The chances of Imran Khan winning the elections of 2018 were quite murky. Despite his unparalleled fan base and populist...

Southeast Asia8 hours ago

Can ‘border guard’ diplomacy strengthen ties between Myanmar-Bangladesh?

The 8th Border Conference between Border Guard Bangladesh (BGB) and Myanmar Border Guard Police (BGP) has started. The conference, which...

Economy10 hours ago

The Upcoming Recession and its Ramifications on the World Economies

The recent decision of the new head of Twitter, Elon Musk, to sack approximately 50 percent of the workforce is only indicative...

South Asia19 hours ago

Chattisgarh Elections 2023: Future of United Progressive Alliance and BJP

Chattisgarh, the 9th largest state of India by area and 17th most populous state with population of 30 Million will...

Eastern Europe22 hours ago

Azerbaijan is to open an embassy in Israel: timely or little late?

“Time to open that bottle!” tweeted with joy George Deek, Israel`s Ambassador in Azerbaijan on November 18, by posting a...

biden-foreign-policy biden-foreign-policy
Americas24 hours ago

Ron Paul: Biden Administration accept that it has a “Zelensky problem”

“Last week the world stood on the very edge of a nuclear war, as Ukraine’s US-funded president, Vladimir Zelensky, urged...

Trending