Forum Institutional

Tourism is not just about travel, it's also about peace

Now is the time for all countries to prioritize tourism and back the sector through post-COVID recovery and beyond.

Now is the time for all countries to prioritize tourism and back the sector through post-COVID recovery and beyond. Image: Unsplash/Kyle Glenn

Zurab Pololikashvili
Secretary-General, World Tourism Organization (UNWTO)
Share:
Our Impact
What's the World Economic Forum doing to accelerate action on Forum Institutional?
The Big Picture
Explore and monitor how Travel and Tourism is affecting economies, industries and global issues
A hand holding a looking glass by a lake
Crowdsource Innovation
Get involved with our crowdsourced digital platform to deliver impact at scale
Stay up to date:

Davos Agenda

This article is part of: World Economic Forum Annual Meeting

Listen to the article

  • As the world steadily opens up, the restarting of tourism is bringing hope to people around the globe.
  • The sector’s recovery represents a unique opportunity to reassess the impact tourism has on people and on planet, and to build a more inclusive, sustainable and resilient future.
  • The World Economic Forum’s latest Travel & Tourism Development Index makes clear the scale of the challenge but also of the enormous untapped potential of tourism, particularly for developing countries.

Tourism has never been more relevant. Nor has its importance to both our societies and our economies been more visible as it is right now. The pandemic, in prompting the introduction of travel restrictions, and a massive fall in demand for travel, brought the sector to a near-complete standstill. In doing so, it put many millions of jobs at risk, placed millions of businesses in jeopardy and led to a sudden fall in vital funding for work to conserve cultural and natural heritage.

As the world steadily opens up again, the restarting of tourism is bringing hope to people around the globe. Moreover, the return of tourism offers a chance to reassert the values that define the sector, namely peace, solidarity and international cooperation. The sector’s recovery also represents a unique opportunity to reassess the impact that tourism has on people and on our planet and to build a more inclusive, sustainable and resilient future.

The World Economic Forum’s latest Travel & Tourism Development Index makes clear the scale of the challenge but also of the enormous untapped potential of tourism, particularly for developing countries. It also demonstrates that sustainability and resilience are key pillars of tourism growth and that tourism development can only be successful if built on a systemic approach where people, planet and prosperity go hand-in-hand.

Changes in demand, including the drive towards greater digitalization, growing interest in nature-based experiences and the emergence of digital nomads, will come with many challenges but also immense opportunities for new businesses, entrepreneurs and entire communities.

Have you read?
  • How to follow Davos 2022

Destinations that cater to tourists with non-traditional tastes are already being established. But for these opportunities to be realized, the sector needs both economic and practical support. Now is the time for all countries to prioritize tourism and back the sector through post-COVID recovery and beyond. The time is now to build a new governance structure for tourism. This includes both governments and the private sector. Governments need to place tourism at the centre of development policies and the private sector can contribute to greater coordination and partnerships as well as new innovative financing.

International Tourism Data collected by UNWTO in March, 2022.
International Tourism Data collected by UNWTO in March, 2022. Image: World Tourism Organization

Sustainable tourism

The World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) is the United Nations agency responsible for the promotion of responsible, sustainable and universally accessible tourism. As much of the world begins to open up, the UNWTO is working to promote investments in projects that will help destinations scale their tourism industries sustainably, inclusively and resiliently. We also have the ambitious objective to achieve net-zero tourism emissions.

In this context, unlocking innovative finance will be key to enabling tourism’s transformation at every level, including through the development of essential infrastructure and the strengthening of socio-economic resilience in developing states.

Investment will also be crucial to enable destinations in all global regions to successfully adapt to meet the changing demands of consumers while working towards attaining the Sustainable Development Goals. And, of course, it will provide both countries and communities with the economic support they need to be part of tourism’s movement towards greater sustainability, allowing the sector to meet its climate action obligations.

Discover

What is the TTDI?

In response to the resolutions set out at the COP26 in Glasgow, UNWTO is looking to create a UN NetZero TOURISM Facility and Ecosystem. The ecosystem will rest on the following pillars:

  • UN TOURISM, a unique alliance of United Nations partners, which will lead the change at global and national level.
  • International financial institutions and equity funds to support the green investment required.
  • International organizations, development partners and the private sector at large to support both the transformation and investment to reach net-zero emission levels for tourism.
Scenario of tourism between 2021-2024
Scenario of tourism between 2021-2024 Image: World Tourism Organization

Importance of investing in tourism

Investing in tourism will pay significant dividends, not least for destinations and their host communities. To a significant extent, this will depend on stability and peace. War, uncertainty and a lack of confidence in travel, global governance and institutions will only hamper the return of tourism and prevent our sector from delivering on its unique potential.

As such, UNWTO calls on all governments and international partners to recognize tourism’s role as a pillar of peace and to ensure the right conditions are in place to allow the sector to recover and kickstart wider recovery.

Supporting tourism at this crucial juncture will provide a lifeline for the most vulnerable in society, empowering them through jobs and education. At present, about 80% of the sector is made up of small and medium-sized businesses, many of them individual or family-owned enterprises. This shows the fragility of the sector but also its unique ability to drive transformation and development from the grassroots up. The restart and recovery of tourism will, in turn, help drive global inclusive recovery and build resilience against future shocks.

Don't miss any update on this topic

Create a free account and access your personalized content collection with our latest publications and analyses.

Sign up for free

License and Republishing

World Economic Forum articles may be republished in accordance with the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International Public License, and in accordance with our Terms of Use.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author alone and not the World Economic Forum.

Related topics:
Forum InstitutionalIndustries in Depth
Share:
World Economic Forum logo
Global Agenda

The Agenda Weekly

A weekly update of the most important issues driving the global agenda

Subscribe today

You can unsubscribe at any time using the link in our emails. For more details, review our privacy policy.

Institutional update

World Economic Forum

May 21, 2024

About Us

Events

Media

Partners & Members

  • Join Us

Language Editions

Privacy Policy & Terms of Service

© 2024 World Economic Forum