G20 tourism ministers vow to step up efforts for sustainable recovery

G20 tourism ministers vow to step up efforts for sustainable recovery
G20 tourism ministers vow to step up efforts for sustainable recovery

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Hind Al Soulia - Riyadh - RIYADH — Tourism ministers of the G20 nations have pledged to step up their efforts to place sustainability and inclusion at the heart of tourism recovery and future growth.

“We welcome the progress achieved during Saudi Arabia’s G20 Presidency on key topics, including global commitments made in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the progression of inclusive community development through tourism, and the advancement of safe and seamless travel and improved traveler experience, the ministers said in a communiqué following their virtual meeting on Wednesday.

They highlighted the crucial role of tourism as a means of sustainable socio-economic development.

“We stress that the travel and tourism sector is one of the most heavily impacted sectors by the COVID-19 pandemic, with an anticipated 60-80% decline in international tourism in 2020. We recognize that COVID-19 may result in a paradigm shift for the travel and tourism sector,” the ministers said.

The tourism leaders vowed to continue to work together through international and public-private cooperation to facilitate the sector’s recovery from the pandemic and support those most impacted by the crisis within the sector, including micro, small, and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs), and developing economies that rely on travel and tourism, especially in Africa and small island states.

“We reiterate our commitment to work with our relevant authorities to ensure the safety of travelers and to ensure that the introduction and removal of travel restrictions, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, are coordinated and proportionate to the national and international situation.

The implementation of the World Tourism Organization AlUla Framework for Inclusive Community Development Through Tourism, presented in the meeting, was welcomed by the G20 Tourism Ministers as a tool for achieving a fairer and more inclusive sector.

Under the leadership of the 2020 G20 Saudi Presidency, UNWTO and the G20 Tourism Working Group developed the AlUla Framework to further advance the contribution of the sector as an effective means toward fairer growth and advancing the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The framework provides specific recommendations and tools to support both governments as well as all other key stakeholders in the tourism sector — including regional and local governments, the private sector, industry associations, civil society, communities, and tourists — fostering a truly holistic and integrated approach to inclusive community development through tourism.

Saudi Arabia’s Minister for Tourism Ahmed Al Khateeb, who presided over the meeting, welcomed the AlUla framework saying: “On behalf of the G20 tourism ministers, I commend the Tourism Working Group and the UNWTO for this initiative. The AlUla Framework demonstrates how the tourism sector can promote inclusive community development by highlighting practical examples and case studies that governments can emulate to protect local culture and the environment while empowering local communities, especially women and young people. The framework is a vital tool to be used as we work together to rebuild the tourism sector to be more sustainable, resilient, and inclusive.

UNWTO Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashvili said: “As we join forces to restart tourism, we must live up to our responsibility to ensure that tourism’s benefits are shared by all. I congratulate the Saudi Presidency for placing inclusive community development through tourism at the heart of the G20 Agenda and I invite G20 countries to follow this vision and embrace tourism as an effective means for inclusion and sustainability.”

Calling for a model of tourism development based on Public-Private-Community (PPC) partnerships, the framework includes a set of concrete programs and initiatives based around four pillars of action — empowerment, safeguarding, prosperity, and collaboration. It further defines the key areas of measurement for the impact of tourism in the communities in line with the Measuring Sustainable Tourism Initiative, led by UNWTO.

Among the G20 Guidelines for Inclusive Community Development through Tourism endorsed at the meeting, is the importance of placing tourism at the heart of development policies at the international, national, and local levels. — SG


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