The World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), founded on 1 November 1975, is the United Nations agency responsible for the promotion of responsible, sustainable and universally accessible tourism. UNWTO’s membership includes 160 Member States, 6 Associate Members, 2 Observers and over 500 Affiliate Members representing the private sector, educational institutions, tourism associations and local tourism authorities.
This Report is designed to examine and assess the work of UNWTO as it leads the global tourism sector out of crisis and into the future.
Launched on World Tourism Day 2022, ‘Rethinking Tourism – From Crisis to Transformation’ is built around the theme of the observation day. With the COVID-19 pandemic as the starting point, it charts a path through the progress made by UNWTO in supporting the sector through the worst crisis in its history while also laying the foundations for sustainable recovery and lasting change. The World Tourism Day report provides an overview of the work carried out across the United Nations specialized agency for tourism over this period: from working closely with Member States, international organizations and fellow UN agencies at the political level, through to the presence on the ground providing Technical Assistance and harnessing the power of its Affiliate Members Network. At the same time, it illustrates the central role of UNWTO departments in leading the way in providing tourism data, intelligence and guidelines, in upholding and advancing ethics and equality, in promoting innovation and investments, and in accelerating tourism climate action and the sector’s contribution to a more sustainable future.
From a record high of 1.5 billion international arrivals a year in 2019, the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic brought travel to a sudden and unexpected halt. Using this historic moment as its starting point, the World Tourism Day report provides an overview of both the economic and the social impact of the travel restrictions that were introduced in response to the pandemic. With trusted data key essential for guiding policy and business decisions, as well as for restoring consumer trust in travel, UNWTO increased the frequency of its regular World Tourism Barometer releases while at the same time launching new products designed to inform every part of the sector, such as the Travel Restrictions Report and the UNWTO Tourism Data Dashboard. Meanwhile, the UNWTO Global Tourism Crisis Committee, established just days after the start of the crisis and convened regularly over subsequent months, brought Members, businesses and international organizations together to jointly mitigate the impacts of the pandemic and then to lay the foundations for sustainable and resilient recovery.
However, this report goes far beyond charting UNWTO’s response to an unprecedented crisis. It also shows how UNWTO seized the chance to turn crisis into opportunity and advance the transformation of tourism. Even as global travel stood still, UNWTO moved forward, strengthening existing partnerships with other UN agencies or building new ones, culminating in a landmark first UN General Assembly thematic session dedicated to tourism. Alongside this, UNWTO continued to advocate for tourism at the highest political level, including at the G20, G7, the European Institutions and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) as well as through establishing working partnerships with major international financing organizations and banks.
On the ground, UNWTO continued to move closer to its Member States. The Report provides an overview of key work in each global region, including the historic opening of the first Regional Office for the Middle East in Riyadh, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
While acknowledging the different scales and types of challenges facing each region and each Member State, ‘Rethinking Tourism – From Crisis to Transformation’ also focuses on the Organization’s universal priorities. To build for the future and train the talent needed to ensure the sector’s transformation, UNWTO has advanced its work on tourism education, training and skills development, including through the expansion of the UNWTO Online Tourism Academy and through developing key partnerships with leading education providers. Similarly, to ensure the benefits of tourism’s return to growth are enjoyed as fairly as possible, UNWTO has stepped up its gender equality-focused work, putting women Centre Stage, while also empowering Indigenous communities, most notably in the Americas, and investing in youth, including through the UNWTO Students Leagues and the inaugural Global Youth Tourism Summit. Furthermore, UNWTO has worked to accelerate the diversification of tourism, to build more resilience and spread the benefits more widely. The Best Tourism Villages by UNWTO has attracted huge global interest, celebrating the sector’s unrivalled ability to drive rural development, while the promotion of emerging sub-sectors including gastronomy and wine tourism and sports and culture tourism.
Finally, the World Tourism Day Report sets out UNWTO’s ambitions for a tourism sector transformed, providing an overview of work accomplished alongside goals still to be achieved. To strengthen trust in travel, the International Code for the Protection of Tourists represents a landmark legal first. Alongside this, the International Convention on Tourism Ethics builds a framework for a fairer, more responsible tourism sector and sets the course for UNWTO’s work in the years ahead.
World Tourism Day 2022 comes at a pivotal moment for the sector. Tourism’s relevance has never been clearer. The time is now to seize this opportunity to rethink and transform tourism and also to rethink how to communicate its transformation. ‘Rethinking Tourism – From Crisis to Transformation’ is the first report to be released by UNWTO on the occasion of World Tourism Day and reports built around each year’s theme will now be published on an annual basis.
Secretary-General Polikashvili elected to second term
First international Standard on Accessible Tourism by UNESCO and UNWTO