Victoria, Mahé, Seychelles, December 30, 2020 / TRAVELINDEX / End of year message from Alain St.Ange, former Minister for Tourism, Civil Aviation, Ports & Marine of the Seychelles – “Tourism needs more than an IMF-led program; it necessitates a larger, more specific group of multinational stakeholders, such as the UNWTO, to join in the recovery.”
The tourism and travel industries remain a critically important part of the world’s economy. They provide jobs for nearly 300 million people, support countless families, and account for more than 10 percent of global GDP. Following the devastating effects of COVID-19 upon these industries, particularly for small island states that are chiefly dependent upon tourism, many are looking for the light at the end of the tunnel.
The high risks and vulnerabilities of countries that are over-dependent upon a particular sector or industry for wealth creation cannot be understated. However, the resilience of any economy that embraces sustainable practices, and puts people at the centre of all their developmental efforts, shall place vulnerable countries in a much better position to contain a pandemic such as Covid-19, and bounce back.
This has been the case for Seychelles following the 2008 financial and economic crisis. However, with the recent confirmed community transmission of COVID-19 in Seychelles, where tourism is the pillar of the local economy, and the health care system ill- equipped to effectively deal with a local outbreak, the re-building and strengthening of the economy will require more than an IMF-led program; it warrants a relevant group of multinational stakeholders, such as the UNWTO, to join in the recovery efforts and re-establishment of the travel and tourism businesses to get back on their feet.
It is indeed a time for UNWTO member states to make the most of their membership, and to directly benefit from the Organization, during this critical period. Covid-19 has emphasized the dire need for tourism-reliant Nations to intensify the coordination of different sectors for more effective results. The silo mentality cannot continue if we are to emerge victorious for our travel and tourism industries.
Going forward, policies that build and promote resilience and sustainable development practices must be spearheaded. As we bid farewell to 2020 and welcome in 2021, tourism destinations should embrace the need for putting development and tourism in the same basket to relaunch economic growth and bring needed employment opportunities for the people. Development is key for economic growth and tourism is the vehicle that gets it moving. The ‘new normal’ should deter any attempt to try to rehash what was in place pre-Covid19. The drying up of tourism brought with it the collapse of the aviation world as never experienced before.
Tourism needs experienced tourism leaders to lead this vital industry now more than ever before.
Wishing everyone a safe, healthy and prosperous new year.