Mr Zurab Pololikashvili, SG of the UNWTO. Pic by UNWTO

ZURAB POLOLIKASHVILI
SECRETARY-GENERAL,
WORLD TOURISM ORGANIZATION (UNWTO), UNITED NATIONS

As the COVID-19 situation evolves, the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) observes
that full or partial travel restrictions have been – and continue to be – introduced
across the world. These decisions are made with public health as the primary
concern.

This pandemic affects every level of society and we stand by those affected in these
times. The impact of the pandemic on already slowing economies has made tourism
particularly vulnerable, becoming the hardest hit sector so far. With 80% of the sector
made up of small and medium-sized enterprises, millions of livelihoods in the world are
left vulnerable.

Putting people first

People and their wellbeing must come first! UNWTO continues to work closely with
the World Health Organization (WHO) to further a collaborative response to COVID-19.
Following a high-level meeting at WHO headquarters in Geneva (10 March), we jointly
underscore the importance of international cooperation and strong leadership in these
difficult times.

This is a shared challenge and everybody must be part of the solution. Anyone
travelling, whether for vital humanitarian missions, essential business or to keep
supply chains functioning, has a duty of care to themselves and others. There can
be no excuses and no exceptions as people around the world are living up to their
responsibilities. If you do travel, stay safe and follow the existing simple but effective
guidelines.

UNWTO operations

UNWTO has implemented public health protocols based on WHO recommendations
and we are closely following the measures introduced by the government of Spain, our
host country. All UNWTO events planned until 30 April have been suspended and will
be rescheduled, based on the latest expert recommendations.

Living up to our social responsibility, and caring for the safety and well-being of theirfamilies, UNWTO personnel will be working from home until the end of March, and
we remain fully operational during these extraordinary times.

Stay home – but travel tomorrow!

Tourism is uniquely placed to lead future recovery. Our sector will provide the jobs
people need to bounce back and will drive economic growth that will help whole
communities and countries to recover.

But for now, we must be patient and stand ready.
By staying home today, we can travel tomorrow. And travelling tomorrow will support
jobs, celebrate culture and promote international friendship and understanding.

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