AM Newsletter Volume 26. December 2020
Dear Affiliate Members,
The year 2020 comes to an end having brought tourism to a near-standstill. Hardly hit by the COVID-19 pandemic, our sector has faced a global crisis with unprecedented economic and social consequences. However, adversity also provides opportunities for growth and for learning. And that is why, in this very last issue of the year, I would like to leave behind the negative effects of this crisis, so widely spoken, to reflect on the positive aspects that this situation has brought us.
In 2020, the tourism sector has stood more united than ever, strengthening its partnerships and improving the information exchange mechanisms in a common effort to relaunch tourism and rebuild the trust of tourists. The UNWTO Affiliate Members department has, on the one hand, considerably increased its capacity to collect valuable inputs from Affiliate Members and effectively incorporate them into UNWTO’s work, and, on the other hand, offered the Affiliate Members its full support in the joint effort to deal with the adverse impact of the pandemic.
As a result, we have been able to provide a coordinated and effective public-private response to this crisis. The Affiliate Members, represented by the Chair of the Board, Ms Ana Larrañaga, have played an active role in the decisions of the UNWTO’s Global Tourism Crisis Committee, created at the initiative of our Secretary General. Next to this, the Affiliate Members’ valuable contributions have helped develop very important documents for the Organization, such as the UNWTO’s Global Guidelines to Restart Tourism.
We have also embraced digitalization more than ever, quickly adapting to the needs of the moment and incorporating the latest technologies in digital production to our meetings. This has allowed us to successfully organize very important events despite the difficult environment, such as our 42nd Plenary Session of the Affiliate Members, which was held in a hybrid format that combined in-person with virtual attendance obtaining record levels of participation. Also, we have increased the frequency of our virtual meetings, ensuring that we can gather any time anywhere, regardless of restrictions to mobility.
We have joined forces to draw up a Programme of Work 2021 that contains innovative proposals. While the activities on tourism recovery amidst the COVID-19 remain a priority, you have also provided excellent ideas to further develop priority topics, including Sports Tourism and Tourism and the Audiovisual, along with innovative projects covering new areas of work, such as Astro tourism, Motor Tourism, Tourism and Culture Synergies and Air Connectivity and Sustainable Tourism.
On a path forward, my department is fully committed to modernization and innovation. As you will read in this issue, we have already taken the first steps towards reforming the legal framework of the Affiliate Members, which will modernize the processes ruling our Membership. Next to this, we have fully involved the Affiliate Members in one very important project for the UNWTO: the development of an International Code for the Protection of Tourists. With a view to also revamp the AM Newsletter, we have given birth to a new interview section aiming at including testimonials from the Affiliate Members, as well as starting to put together an Agenda of Affiliate Members’ Events for 2021 at the end of the publication.
Despite 2020 has been a very difficult year for the tourism sector, there is no doubt that we have proved our great strength, resilience and capacity to innovate. I would like to thank you all for your excellent cooperation throughout the year. And I would also like to thank you in advance for the support and contributions that, I am sure, you will continue to provide in the months to come with a view to rebuild tourism and traveler’s trust.
With the conviction that, together, we can ensure that tourism gets back on its feet stronger in the year ahead, I would like to wish you all a happy holiday season and a very prosperous new year 2021!
Sincerely, Ion Vilcu