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UNWTO official visit to Italy as borders re-open across the Schengen zone

A delegation of UNWTO arrived in Italy on the first official visit since the outbreak of the Covid19 pandemic.

 

Following an official invitation by Italy, the UNWTO Secretary-General started an official visit (1-4 July), and met the Minister of Culture, Cultural Heritage and Tourism Dario Franceschini, to learn more of the country’s plans for the steady and sustainable restart of a sector that is a leading employer and helps preserve the country’s unique cultural heritage.

Against the backdrop of the re-opening of borders across Europe, a high-level delegation from the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) has arrived in Italy to begin a first official visit to a Member State since the COVID-19 pandemic brought international travel to a standstill.

The closure of tourism operations for several months has had a devastating effect for many businesses and millions of livelihoods across the world. To kickstart recovery, countries within the Schengen Zone (26 countries in Europe) are now reopening their borders to tourists.

Following an official invitation by Italy, the UNWTO Secretary-General started an official visit (1-4 July), and met the Minister of Culture, Cultural Heritage and Tourism Dario Franceschini, to learn more of the country’s plans for the steady and sustainable restart of a sector that is a leading employer and helps preserve the country’s unique cultural heritage.

Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashvili said: “Strong domestic leadership and a commitment to cooperating across borders are imperative for the responsible return of tourism and the many benefits it offers, both within the Schengen Zone and worldwide. UNWTO is leading the restart of tourism, and Italy has demonstrated its commitment to harnessing the power of the sector to drive wider societal recovery.”

Guiding tourism’s restart
Mr Pololikashvili commended the Italian Government on their efforts thus far and emphasized his continued support for making sure that all tourism related activities can gradually restart. He also presented the resources that UNWTO has developed to help guide tourism’s restart, including the Recommendations for Recovery, a roadmap for both governments and the private sector. Over the next four days of the visit, the Secretary-General will visit Rome, Milan and Venice, where he will get a close insight into how tourism sector and various destinations have been responding to the devastating impact of the COVID-19. 

This is the first official trip undertaken by UNWTO since restrictions on travel were introduced in response to the pandemic. During the lockdown phase, the United Nations specialized agency has been working closely with its Member States and the private sector to mitigate the impact on jobs and economies while also preparing for tourism’s restart.

As tourism restarts, our responsibilities says UNWTO Secretary-General
Four months ago, UNWTO asked its Members, the tourism sector and tourists themselves for patience. To stay at home for today so we could travel again tomorrow.

Tomorrow is now here.

The restart of tourism means the return of hope and opportunity for many millions of people around the world.

This week, Europe leads the way in restarting tourism. Destinations throughout the Schengen Zone are once again open. The lifting of borders will have an immediate and significant impact on economies and livelihoods.

For Spain, host country of UNWTO, and neighbours Portugal, the occasion will be marked by a special ceremony. The presence of His Majesty King Felipe VI and President Pedro Sánchez of Spain alongside President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa and Prime Minister Antonio Costa of Portugal is testament to the significance of tourism’s restart for both countries.

So too is the practical support that tourism has received, including from the very highest political level. The European Commission has provided an unprecedented degree of economic support for the sector. And at the national level, has France has echoed our call to back tourism with actions and not just words, giving the sector and the businesses that make it the economic help they need to survive and lead recovery.

To reflect this, UNWTO is changing gears in how we support our Member States and tourism at large.

This week I resume person-to-person official meetings as I lead a delegation on an official visit to Italy and to the Vatican City. 

This is an opportunity to show our support for tourism and for a country that is not only a true global tourism leader, but which was one of the worst-affected by the COVID-19 pandemic in all of Europe.

Our visit to Italy will allow us to learn more about important steps being taken to make tourism more sustainable, more resilient and more innovative. It also offers an opportunity to celebrate what makes tourism: people.

This will be the first of a series of visits as the world steadily opens up again, allowing us to lead by example in supporting tourism and making our sector a vital tool for recovery.

At the same time, it is only right that we remain cautious. This crisis is far from over. In other regions of the world, borders remain closed to tourism and the COVID-19 pandemic continues to spread. The human toll, economic cost and social impact are still growing. This is no time for complacency.

And even where the worst appears to have passed, the threat of the pandemic returning means we must act responsibly and make public health our priority.

During these difficult months, tourism has stepped up to meet this unprecedented challenge with determination and an unparalleled spirit of solidarity. We carry this into the next stage.

Tourism’s restart is a step towards ending many weeks of uncertainty and replace it with a renewed sense of confidence. As we meet in person again, we can build trust, the essential foundation as we work together to grow back stronger and better. But this will only work out, if we act with responsibility – it’s better to be right, than to be first.

Zurab Pololikashvili,
UNWTO Secretary-General

News Editor - TravelDailyNews Media Network | + Posts

Tatiana is the news coordinator for TravelDailyNews Media Network (traveldailynews.gr, traveldailynews.com and traveldailynews.asia). Her role includes monitoring the hundreds of news sources of TravelDailyNews Media Network and skimming the most important according to our strategy.

She holds a Bachelor's degree in Communication & Mass Media from Panteion University of Political & Social Studies of Athens and she has been editor and editor-in-chief in various economic magazines and newspapers.

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