Global Tourism Crisis Committee Meets Again to Explore Safe Travel in Age of Vaccines


The Global Tourism Crisis Committee has met for the first time in 2021. Organized by the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), the cross-sector body met in Madrid to advance solid plans to restart tourism, including through the integration of vaccines into a harmonized approach to safe travel and through a coordinated effort to boost confidence in the sector.

With countries around the world now rolling out vaccines against the COVID-19 virus, the Committee explored options for making vaccines just one part of a harmomized approach, also potentially including health certificates and travel passes. Additionally, Members contributed their unique expert insights into the issue of pre and post-vaccine cross-border travel.

The United for Travel campaign will help us achieve this, providing a clear and strong message that safe tourism is now possible

The Committee’s own Technical Group, chaired by Greece, alongside a dedicated inter-agency group drawing on diverse parts of the United Nations system and international organizations, are working to ensure measures are implemented, including by governments, to foster their application at every level of tourism. The Technical Group Chairman Harry Theocharis provided his latest update, showing how concrete steps have been taken to guarantee a harmonized plan of action.

UNWTO Secretary-General Pololikashvili said: “The rollout of vaccines is a step in the right direction, but the restart of tourism cannot wait. Vaccines must be part of a wider, coordinated approach that includes certificates and passes for safe cross-border travel. In the longer-term, we also need to restore confidence in tourism. The United for Travel campaign will help us achieve this, providing a clear and strong message that safe tourism is now possible.”

New global campaign to build confidence in tourism

UNWTO Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashvili also announced plans for the launch of a new global campaign aimed at restoring confidence in international travel and tourism. The initiative, United for Travel, will be launched soon and will unite governments, international organizations, destinations and businesses behind a common message. Alongside this, UNWTO will also advance a new global travel and tourism crisis system. The proposed System for International Travel and Tourism Emergencies (SITE) will build on the lessons learned from since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic to reinforce coordination mechanisms between UNWTO and its Members and build effective governance and harmonized international protocols and regulations.

Committee draws on top expertise and leadership

Since the start of the crisis, UNWTO has convened the Committee to bring together governments, public and private sector leaders and international organizations to form a united and efficient response. Addressing this latest meeting were Margaritis Schinas, Vice President of the European Commission, OECD Secretary-General Ángel Gurría, and both tourism ministers from UNWTO’s Member States and leading representatives of from the civil aviation and cruise tourism sectors. Joining them and ensuring the United Nations speaks with one voice were Fang Liu, Secretary-General and Kitack Lim, Secretary-General of IMO.

The Global Tourism Crisis Committee met against the backdrop of the 113th session of the UNWTO Executive Council, also being held in Madrid as a hybrid event. The Council brings together more than 150 in-person participants alongside participants representing governments and destinations of every global region, to advance UNWTO’s Programme of Work and to vote for the Organization’s Secretary-General for 2022-2025.

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