Tourism Investments Trends and Challenges During COVID-19

Tourism Investments Trends and Challenges During COVID-19

The webinar will be delivered via Zoom in English, on the 24th of March at 10:00 AM CET.


The COVID-19 pandemic has hit hard investments in the tourism sector. Announced foreign investment in the tourism sector fell from $48.5bn in 2019 to $12.6bn in 2020 according to fDi intelligence from the Financial Times. This represents Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) into tourism plummeted by 73.2% in the first half of 2020 compared with the same period of 2019. The drop in the tourism sector is among the highest, especially when comparing with the Global FDI that collapsed by 42% in 2020 according to UNCTAD. As a result, the sector has lost around $910bn to $1.2trn in export revenues in 2020 compared with 2019 which suggests around 100–120 million direct tourism jobs at risk as the global FDI remains weak in 2021, experiencing a further decline of 5–10%. 

In this context, the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) has prioritized Investments as one of our key areas as we move forward towards the economic recovery. We believe that sustainable investments and its cross-sectorial impact has a multiplier power to strengthen strategic large regional projects, but also the promotion of investments that stimulates entrepreneurship and innovation of micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs), which along with tech startups are an important driver of innovation and jobs creation. 

For this purpose, we joined forces with the fDi Intelligence from the Financial Times one of our key collaborators to provide you practical digital tools to improve your competitiveness in regards the attraction and promotion of foreign direct investment (FDI) to your region and country as we recover from the COVID-19 pandemic

The Tourism Investment Webinars will focus on “Tourism Investments Trends and Challenges post COVID- 19” with the purpose to provide a relevant data insights and practical strategies concerned with the use of digital platforms to attract and promote investments for a faster recovery of the tourism sector.


The UNWTO webinars will invite government officials related with attraction and promotion of investments, IPA managers, traditional, non-traditional investors with a forward-looking vision to attract more FDI for tourism development.


Natalia Bayona
Natalia Bayona
Director Innovation, Education and Investments at UNWTO

Natalia Bayona leads the innovation, digital transformation and investments strategy of the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), the United Nations specialized agency for the promotion of responsible, sustainable and accessible tourism worldwide.

With a diverse background on politics, destination management and business, she has become the first innovation director at UNWTO and has introduced entrepreneurship as key factor for tourism and development. Her work consists on identifying the most disruptive startups and investment projects and matching them with Member States and leading corporations. As an advocate of youth and technology, she seeks to make entrepreneurs grow for a promising future in all regions.

For 2 and a half years, Natalia has developed 7 UNWTO Startup Competitions and 4 Innovation Challenges, including the Healing Solutions for Tourism edition, with outcomes such as more than 45 million Euros in support for entrepreneurs and pilots for safe travel. Moreover, she has designed the Tourism Tech Adventures innovation forums and co-created the UNWTO Tourism Online Academy for advancing skill development in the sector in collaboration with the most pretigious universities. She has also opened the Multilateral Investment Cooperation area for tourism and is currently working on high-impact projects to #RestartTourism.

Natalia graduated in Government and International Relations from Universidad Externado de Colombia and holds an Executive MBA from the IE Business School. Nowadays, she is part of the World Economic Forum network as a European Digital Leader and is an Eisenhower Fellow as the first Colombian on the Women Leadership Program for creating the first Tourism for Tomorrow Alliance Fund: a high-level network focused on joining public-private efforts for high-impact investments in digital education and innovation for tourism’s sustainable development and post Covid-19 recovery.

In 2017, she served as the Vice President of International Development for the Spain Startup - South Summit and organized the first South Summit Pacific Alliance, connecting the main stakeholders of the entrepreneurship ecosystem of Colombia, Chile, Mexico and Peru.

Having worked in ProColombia for ten years, she has lived in six countries where has developed strategies to boost exports, foreign investment and tourism for Colombia. Her career started in 2006 as part of the team that created the first international tourism campaign for Colombia: “Colombia, the risk is wanting to stay”, which sought to change the image of the country abroad. The successful execution of this campaign in more than 15 countries was possible thanks to her work.

Sarah Russis
Sarah Russis Kraïem
Head of Global Sales at fDi Intelligence Financial Times

Sarah Russis is Director at fDi Intelligence, the largest Foreign Direct Investment centre of excellence worldwide [a specialist service from the Financial Times]. She has worked with Government agencies, Universities, Research institutions, Multinationals, SMEs and Consulting firms from over 50 countries.

Sarah and her team help countries, regions and cities around the world to promote their location as an investment destination, identify new investors as well as build strong business cases through the use of fDi Intelligence’s state-of-the-art business intelligence and marketing tools. She also assists corporates and academic institutions in their market and industry research.

For the last 8 years Sarah has been helping to develop the fDi Intelligence tools and is an expert in using data to create analysis regarding a location’s competitiveness, marketing messages and brand awareness.

Sarah is regularly invited to participate at international FDI events. Recently she presented at the MIPIM Real Estate event in Cannes, France, Annual Investment Meeting AIM Dubai and the United Nations World Tourism Organization Annual General Assembly in Saint Petersburg, Russia. Sarah has a Bachelor’s degree in Applied Foreign Languages from Anglia Polytechnic University in Cambridge, UK and a Master’s degree in International Business from the University of Cergy-Pontoise, France.

10:00 - 10:05

Welcome address

Hae-Guk Hwang, Director Regional Department for Asia and the Pacific

10:05 – 10:15

Presentation Keynote: Tourism Investments Trends and Challenges

Natalia Bayona, Director Innovation, Education and Investments at UNWTO

Guiding questions:

  • What are the trends and guidelines for Tourism Foreign Direct Investment?
  • What themes will define the tourism investment recovery post COVID-19?
10:15 – 10:25

Presentation Keynote by fDi Intelligence on Digital Platforms for Tourism FDI

Sarah Russis, Head of Global Sales at fDi Intelligence, Financial Times

Guiding questions:

  • What are the best practices and digitals platforms available to enhance tourism investments recovery?
  • How could governments use technology to promote Tourism Foreign Direct Investment?
10:25 – 11:00

Q&A (each MS will be given around 3mins for questions and answers)

Bangladesh, Bhutan, Fiji, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Maldives, Pakistan, Samoa, Sri Lanka, Vietnam


Natalia Bayona, Director Innovation, Education and Investments at UNWTO