Tourism- Abbas Sajwani

Destinations need to come together to secure the future global tourism industry

Expo 2020 Dubai has shown the world how careful planning, pandemic control and strict health and safety protocols can ensure everyone can enjoy a tourism experience.

Yet the global tourism industry’s future remains uncertain, with complex issues such as the pandemic, sustainability and fuel prices combining to create myriad issues.

And yet another pandemic lesson was how swiftly all nations and people could work together for a common aim – in creating not only one vaccine, but many.

If we could apply this same approach to the tourism sector, we might ensure its survival for the benefit of all.

I believe we can all work together to help ensure the sector’s future success in several ways.

The pandemic has been a call to action for global governments to respond in a coordinated way, highlighting the importance of adopting integrated tourism policies to help recovery.

Many corners of the world rely on tourist dollars to support the national and local economy, and the pandemic has left them devastated.

The events of the last few years have thrown the need for rapid action in the face of crisis into stark relief. Governments must work to help communities, workers and districts struggling without tourism.

Of course, we can help by donating to fundraising efforts and drives to help those most affected by the crisis.

Alliances, I believe, will be critical to ensure the survival of the tourism industry. Perhaps regions can come together to encourage multi-centre trips, but for now, the problem is more fundamental.

Governments and international tourism sector representative organisations must work together to help ensure the safety of tourism workers, travellers and destinations.

While 2022 is the year we may well see the world opening up again, many people will still be reluctant to travel for fear of new COVID variants, fear of getting stuck far away from home, or falling foul of changes in local and international travel rules.

Ensuring a multilateral approach to travel rules, with nations supporting each other, will certainly help.

I’m reminded of the ‘green’ and ‘red’ list travel corridors agreed upon between certain nations, such as the UAE, to help facilitate safe travel.

And, of course, better international coordination will help nations deal with future unplanned events in a swifter, more effective and efficient way.

As mentioned earlier, some developing nations heavily rely on tourism dollars. Nations must invest heavily in helping the sector survive – from helping international hotel chains to providing grants for grassroots souvenir manufacturers. In many countries, the tourism sector’s contribution to GDP is substantial.

Tourism is also an industry that not only helps people earn a living but also fosters innovation, encourages understanding, builds better communities and helps wider economic recovery. These are all certainly worth supporting.

With continuing support from government and tourism sector organisations, the tourism sector should slowly bounce back become more sustainable and resilient.

And part of that resilience, I believe, can come through more reliance on technology. We can use technology to gather more evidence – gathering information can lead to research and data analysis, which in turn can help inform better national and international policy decisions.

While the pandemic has been a tough experience, we can hope that it is also viewed as an opportunity to make bold changes.

In terms of the tourism sector, I hope that lessons learnt over the last two years will lead to fairer, more sustainable and resilient tourism development.

And, of course, my final point must surely be that the responsibility lies on us all – those privileged enough to be able to travel – to seek out sustainable new adventures in some of the world’s more interesting places, and support the re-growth of the tourism sector while enjoying ourselves. That sounds like a good plan for 2022!

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