The United Nations World Tourism Organisation is urging governments to “go beyond words” and begin taking decisive action to safeguard the millions of jobs under threat as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.
A crisis committee was convened by international body in response to the pandemic.
With tourism among the worst affected of all major economic sectors, the agency warned of the social and development toll the economic impact might have.
In the third meeting of the committee, UNWTO urged members to increase pressure on world leaders to rethink tax policies and employment policies relating to tourism and to help make sure businesses survive to help drive wider recovery efforts.
This call to action comes as decision makers come under mounting pressure to take concrete steps to help combat Covid-19.
Drawing up financial and economic responses has been the central focus of the spring meetings of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank this week, while the European Commission has been enhancing political cooperation within the European Union.
The tourism crisis committee meeting was also held against the backdrop of the Saudi presidency of the G20 calling on governments, private organisations and philanthropists to contribute a collective US$8 billion to address the existing financing gap and properly address the pandemic.
UNWTO secretary-general, Zurab Pololikashvili, said: “This crisis has shown the strength of solidarity across borders.
“But nice words and gestures will not protect jobs or help the many millions of people whose lives are dependent on a thriving tourism sector.
“Governments have an opportunity to recognise tourism’s unique ability to not only provide employment but to drive equality and inclusivity.
“Our sector has proven its ability to bounce back and help societies recover.
“We ask that tourism is now given the right support to once again lead recovery efforts.”
The call to action comes as UNWTO reports on the extent to which Covid-19 has brought global tourism to a standstill.
The UNWTO Travel Restrictions report notes that 96 per cent of all worldwide destinations have introduced full or partial restrictions since the end of January.
Pololikashvili also called on governments to lift such restrictions as soon as it is safe to do so in order that societies are once again able to benefit from the social and economic benefits tourism can bring.
Looking ahead, the global tourism crisis committee is working on a recovery plan for the sector.
This will be centred around open borders and enhanced connectivity while also working to raise consumer and investor confidence.