UN chief calls for safe rebuilding of world’s tourism sector

FILE PHOTO: UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres addresses the opening of the 73rd session of the UN General Assembly at the UN headquarters in New York, September 25, 2018. /Reuters Photo‍

The United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has called for the rebuilding of the world’s tourism sector in a safe, equitable and climate friendly way.

Guterres made the remarks as countries across the globe embark on reopening their tourism secrots after a months-long disruption due to COVID-19.

The U.N. chief said tourism is “one of the world’s most important economic sectors,” adding that it “employs one-in-every-ten people on Earth and provides livelihoods to hundreds of millions more”.

Many countries around the world experienced massive economic losses as the tourism sector remained idle due to the pandemic. A disruption in both local and international travel caused by lockdowns meant tourist attractions remained empty for the better part of the second quarter of the year and beyond.

“It has been so painful to see how tourism has been devastated by the COVID-19 pandemic”, the UN chief reflected.

He estimated that in the first five months of the year, international tourist arrivals fell by more than half and around $320 billion in tourism exports were lost.

The situation also meant many people employed in the tourism sector lost their jobs.

Data from the UN World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) shows that 100 to 120 million direct tourism jobs are at risk.

Guterres bemoaned an increase in poaching activities due to the effects of the pandemic, further endangering some species.

Guterres remarks came as the number of COVID-19 cases globally neared the 23.7 million mark and the death toll exceeded 814,000.

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