The UNWTO Agenda for Africa; Tourism for inclusive growth is a policy document which outlines the ten priority areas of tourism development in the African continent. Launched in 2019 with the enthusiastic support of African Members, it is a dynamic project and was notably revised to reflect the new challenges and opportunities brought by the pandemic.
“The Agenda for Africa… aims to enhance Africa’s tourism Infrastructure, boost air connectivity, ease visa facilitation, ensure the safety and security of tourists, invest in the development of human capital development, and improve the image of Africa to the rest of the world. We celebrate Africa’s rich heritage, its people, cultural diversity, and exciting gastronomy.”
Responding to feedback from Members, UNWTO focused on working with them to establish a new narrative for African tourism. To advance the “Brand Africa” initiative, the UNWTO inspiration Africa Branding challenge was launched in 2020 to realize tourism’s potential to drive recovery. The challenge formed part of a holistic approach to create a positive image of Africa as a tourism destination that supports the efforts of individual countries and companies, tells the many positive stories about Africa and makes tourism a driver of development.
UNWTO’s African Member States unanimously endorsed theWindhoek Pledge on Advocating Brand Africa, under the terms of which they will engage both public and private sector stakeholders as well as local communities to build a new, inspiring narrative for tourism across the continent.
The Americas has had one of the most notable recoveries, as Member States focused on plans for sustainable recovery and future resilience, with an emphasis on the potential of digitization and new ideas and in boosting investment in green business models.
Reflecting the dynamic nature of tourism and the sector’s ability to adapt, the American Member States collaborated with international organizations such as the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) designed to promote digital transformation and positive change. The “Beyond Tourism Innovation Challenge” identified the best new ideas for the disruption of tourism, with a focus on sustainability and creating opportunities for all.
In May 2021, Tourism leaders in the Americas signed the Declaration of Punta Cana which sealed the commitment of regional leaders to make tourism a pillar of sustainable development and ensure an effective recovery plan post-COVID.
Alongside general recovery, UNWTO has also been working to ensure everyone benefits from tourism’s return, including Indigenous communities across the region. Weaving the Recovery – Indigenous Women in Tourism focuses on empowering Indigenous women through responsible tourism experiences and indigenous artisanship in Latin America. Through this project we enabled market access of indigenous women to tourism and conscious consumers through textiles, fair trade and community entrepreneurship. The project was named one of the 10 Most Promising Projects at The Paris Peace Forum 2020.
Asia and the Pacific was the first global region to be affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. The sudden and unexpected fall in tourist arrivals has hurt economies, put many jobs at risk and threatened the progress made in sustainable development, especially in those countries that are particularly dependent on tourism.
UNWTO has worked closely with Member States from the region to support them as they remained either fully or partially closed to international tourists. Looking ahead, the importance of innovation has been placed centre-stage. In June 2022, UNWTO welcomed tourism leaders from across the region Ministerial Roundtable on Tourism Resilience through Innovation and Digitalization in Asia and the Pacific.
At the same time, UNWTO is also working with Member States to diversify their tourism sectors so as to build greater resilience and spread the benefits the sector offers more widely. In 2023, UNWTO will host a two-day Global Summit on Community-based Tourism, bringing public and private sector experts together to focus on the potential of gastronomy tourism, agro-tourism and community-based tourism for sustainable and inclusive development.
This commitment to embracing new trends helped make Asia and the Pacific the ideal hosts for World Tourism Day 2022, with its focus on Rethinking Tourism.
Tourism is a central pillar of European economies, a leading employer, and a source of opportunity for millions of people across the continent. The leaders of European Institutions have signalled their commitment to supporting tourism at this challenging time. High-level leadership and unprecedented levels of cooperation between the Institutions, governments and businesses will be needed to translate good intentions into firm actions and so help tourism lead the continent’s recovery from crisis.
As European tourism shows signs of recovery, UNWTO is working with its Members in the region to turn this crisis into an opportunity for shared progress and to contribute to the global economic reactivation of the sector.
The Barcelona Call to Action was designed to become an international benchmark, establishing a framework for a new, more ethical and sustainable tourism model.
“From the activation of the Global Tourism Crisis Committee, and close cooperation with the WHO to the Global Guidelines for Safe Tourism Services, the UN system, and in particular Secretary-General Pololikashvili have played a key role in helping the tourism sector recover. We will continue our efforts working closely with the UNWTO and other international partners.”
Margaritis Schinas, EU Commission Vice-President
The Middle East is one of the fastest-growing tourism regions of the world. Tourism is helping countries diversity their economies, creating jobs and supporting businesses at every stage of the value chain. The sector is also a leading driver of equality and opportunity across the Middle East. It is a leading employer of women, of youth and a pillar of sustainable development, including for rural communities and indigenous populations.
In May 2021, UNWTO opened a Regional Office for the Middle East, bringing the United Nations specialized agency closer to its Members and advancing on its commitment to guiding the development of tourism in every global region. The new office will serve as a hub for UNWTO to coordinate policy and initiatives across its 13 Member States in the region. At the same time, it will serve as a hub for global initiatives among them the new “Best Tourism Villages by UNWTO”, launched on the occasion of the opening of the Regional Office. Alongside this, Riyadh will also be home to an expanded UNWTO International Tourism Academy.
Bringing together over 500 companies, educational and research institutions, destinations and NGOs, the UNWTO Affiliate Members provides a space for members to engage in dialogue, share information and take further action.
The engaged participation of every part of the sector will be needed to restart tourism and drive recovery. From the onset of the crisis, tourism has led the way in adapting to the new reality and putting public health concerns first. Now, tourism needs the support of governments, international organizations and the private sector to grow back stronger and be more resilient, benefitting many millions of people and businesses worldwide. In light of this, UNWTO has continued to expand and broaden its Affiliate Members Network. For example, through welcoming Netflix on board, UNWTO will be able to showcase the importance of the sector to new audiences everywhere.
At the 24th session of the UNWTO General Assembly held in Madrid, Spain in December 2021, approval was given for the new legal framework of the Affiliate Members, which deepened the prerogatives of the board and paved the way for the strengthening of its role in the organization.