Transforming Tourism Initiative's open letter to UNWTO

Addressing the challenges of tourism in the context of COVID 19 means:

    • Upholding the “leave no one behind”-principle in recovery plans: Governments are requested to provide urgent and efficient support to the most vulnerable groups in the tourism sector, who are the workers in the formal and informal economy. Among them are migrant workers and women, who face particular discriminations and vulnerabilities.
    • Ensure that mistakes from the past are not repeated now that domestic and rural tourism are growing more intensively. Encourage destinations, tourism planners and companies to develop concepts to define local carrying capacities in a participatory way, in order to avoid a repetition of the over-tourism crisis. On the contrary, support tourism strategies that contribute to inclusive economic and social development.
    • The recession is likely to lead to new investments in tourism. Guarantees in contracts and planning permissions should ensure that social and environmental sustainability and disaster preparedness are at the core of any new investments and that they do not harm traditional land use patterns.
    • Support destinations to implement truly resilient tourism models that serve people in host communities and destinations. Thousands of communities active in tourism have proved, even in a deep crisis such as COVID-19, that their model is more resilient to external shocks and so better equipped for a world characterized by more and more uncertainties. Motivate your members’ countries not to opt for a debt-induced tourism model, because it increases the dependency of destinations instead of contributing to their resilience.

Whilst the most urgent measures to fight the social and economic impacts of COVID 19 are the highest priority, we need also to initiate long-term measures to transform tourism. These include:

    • Develop mechanisms that measure the effects of tourism on people and the planet including the ecological and social costs of tourism and allowing for fair and just pricing. Only tourism that contributes to the wellbeing of people and protects the environment is a viable development option.
    • Ensure that precariousness and segmentation of labour in tourism is addressed by adopting and fully adhering to the ILO Decent Work Principles. These include respect for fundamental labour rights, such as freedom to organize and the eradication of all forms of labour discrimination, forced labour, and child labour.
    • Remind all tourism stakeholders from both the public and private sectors that tourism should facilitate an economic and social ecosystem that allows diverse and complementary sets of livelihoods in communities and destinations to co-exist and thus to generate local well-being, cooperation and fair trade.
    • Ensure that tourism makes honest and ambitious efforts to combat climate change by reducing its absolute emissions and its use of fossil fuels, globally, nationally and locally e.g. by avoiding non-essential flights; structurally reducing plastic use; adopting and contributing to responsible waste management practices; and ensuring true-cost pricing of fossil fuels.
  • Ensure that tourism protects natural landscapes and biodiversity. Develop strategies and practices for sustainable development, which are rooted in a region and which respect its natural and cultural resources as well as its carrying capacities.
Transforming Tourism Initiative's open letter to UNWTO
Local Regions/Cities