Global tourism now at 70 pct of pre-COVID levels: UNWTO

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Global tourism is now at 70 percent of pre-pandemic levels, the United Nations’ World Tourism Organization chief said on Tuesday.

UNWTO Secretary General Zurab Pololikashvili said that although the COVID-hit industry was making headway towards a full recovery, “the window of opportunity will not stay open forever.”

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“We need to rethink tourism: as a provider of jobs, an economic pillar, and, against the backdrop of COP27, as a solution to the climate emergency,” he added.

Pololikashvili’s comments were made at an event on the sidelines of COP27’s climate summit in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt.

Tourism was one of the sectors most affected by the unprecedented pandemic in 2020, impacting economies that relied heavily on the industry, as well as livelihoods, public services and opportunities.

The event, held under the theme ‘Rethinking Tourism,’ gathered ministers, high-level delegates, and business leaders from 19 countries to reflect on the global relevance of the tourism sector, sustainability and social wellbeing.

Presenting an overview of the UN organization’s work at the summit, Pololikashvili emphasized the need for more investment in sustainable infrastructure and in people, most notably through quality education and providing decent jobs.

“Our job is to create jobs,” he said.

Tourism accounts for one in 10 jobs worldwide, according to the UNWTO, and provides livelihoods for many millions more in both developed and developing nations.

Echoing the UNWTO’s position, exhibition director at World Travel Markets Juliette Losardo, who was also present at the summit noted that a “post-pandemic world has revealed exciting opportunities, and given us a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to reconsider tourism and ask ourselves how we can rebuild and better prepare for the future.”

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