Tourism as a key driver of global growth post-pandemic. This is the call made by the over 1,500 participants, including government officials, representatives of international organizations, and the private sector who converged in Abidjan for the World Tourism Day 2021 celebrations Monday.
Tourism is one of the sectors hardest hit by the pandemic, affecting incomes and millions of jobs worldwide.
But with the help of vaccines, countries are beginning to ease restrictions on movement, lifting curbs on air travel and gradually restarting tourism in the process.
Reopening the however sector remains a long way off in Africa, where a shortage of vaccines has upended efforts to end to slow the pandemic.
"In a post-COVID context, this is the first time that the tourism world is getting together and it is on Ivorian soil. And this is all the more important for us, as we have been able to mobilize a little more than 122 countries attending here and remotely," said Siandou Fofana, Ivory Coast's minister for tourism and leisure.
Opening the day, the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO )Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashvili stressed the sector’s “commitment to inclusive growth so that tourism’s restart brings hope for millions worldwide and ensures that everyone who has a stake in tourism also has a say in its future”.
Pololikashvili also hailed the richness and diversity of African culture and called on countries to market heritage as a tourist attraction.
According to a UNWTO report, the number of international tourists has dropped from nearly 1.5 billion in 2019 to 398 million in 2020.