The need for a more strategic approach to risk and crisis management has been confirmed by recent events such as the forest fires in Greece, hurricanes in Central America, and the earthquake in Indonesia. While these events are challenges to travellers and the tourism sector, they also reflect the number and kinds of natural and man-made disasters which affect the world as a whole.
Tourism authorities from Greece, Honduras and Indonesia informed UNWTO that recent events have not caused major changes in the schedules of travellers. While this reflects the resilience of the travel and tourism industry, it also underlines the need for a strategic and rapid response of the sector to the adversities.
In an effort to further increase its response mechanisms, UNWTO has allocated additional resources and realigned its general Programme of Work for the years 2008/2009 to help better face these challenge.
UNWTO draws on its rich experience and proven capability in the work done so far for the recovery of tourism in the post tsunami Phuket Action Plan of February 2005 and the various efforts on Avian and Human Influenza pandemic.
Furthermore, the creation of the Tourism Emergency Response Network (TERN), simulation exercises, and the establishment of the dedicated website sos.travel , have all expanded the existing platform to counter the threat of human and man-made disasters that seem to challenge the world more and more.
The close collaboration with other UN bodies and agencies such as the UN System Influenza Coordination (UNSIC), the World Health Organization (WHO), the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), to name a few, should reinforce UNWTO in its future endeavours to tackle all forms of crises to the tourism industry as a whole.
The Organization will be presenting its report on strengthening its crisis management activities for discussion at the forthcoming UNWTO General Assembly in Cartagena de Indias, Colombia, 22-29 November 2007, and hopes to receive full endorsement by its Members for its plans.