At a time when government and the private sector are embarking on the path to recovery, the time is right To Restart Tourism, with the aim to emerge stronger from the COVID-19 crisis.
UNWTO Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashvili said: “Sustainability must no longer be a niche part of tourism but must be the new norm for every part of our sector. This is one of the central elements of our Global Guidelines to Restart Tourism. It is in our hands to transform tourism and that emerging from COVID-19 becomes a turning point for sustainability".
COVID-19 crisis and tourism:
The crisis has, therefore, brought us to a fork in the road – giving us the perfect opportunity to select a new direction and move forward by adopting a more sustainable path. Specifically, COVID-19 offers public, private, and academic actors a unique opportunity to design and consolidate the transition towards a more balanced tourism.
Restarting tourism, two general outcomes are possible:
The first, the sector will gradually revert to the pre-crisis unsustainable growth-oriented trajectory.
An alternative scenario entails a transition towards a radically different way of doing things. Arriving at this metaphorical fork in the road constitutes an opportunity for society at large to pause and ponder the way forward. There is an opportunity to take advantage of the current crisis to reinvent the tourism of tomorrow - towards a more sustainable, resilient and innovative sector.
What is Sustainable tourism?
Sustainable tourism is a way of travel that, while it offers a unique and amazing experience to the traveler and connects people, it also protects our best assets, our nature, our culture, our communities, our history and our planet. When it comes to sustainability in tourism, there are actually three pillars to consider: environmental,economic, and socio-cultural. Tourism has to be sustainable in all three areas to truly be considered “sustainable tourism.”
Why sustainability should be the new norm?
Sustainable tourism is important because the alternative is unsustainable: polluted environment, garbage everywhere, unwelcoming locals or disappearing cultures and wildlife. In order for travel to be transformative, authentic, or even memorable, it must respect the natural resources and work in partnership with communities.
Government in collaboration with private sector can take a leading role in this by redesigning their curriculum. This is the right moment when sustainable tourism won’t be a niche anymore, but mainstream.