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The meeting conducted virtually for public health reasons further emphasised the call for international cooperation

The World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) hosted a high-level virtual meeting on Friday, bringing together key UN agencies and private sector leaders.

Tourism and Wildlife Cabinet Secretary Najib Balala (pictured), who is also the chair of the UNTWO Executive Council, took part.

The meeting also had Zambian Tourism Minister Ronald Chitolela, who is chairman of the Regional Commission for Africa. A number of representatives from around the globe also joined the virtual meeting.

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The meeting moderated from UNWTO headquarters in Madrid, Spain, heard that tourism had been one of the sectors hardest hit by the Covid-19 pandemic.

The UNWTO-led committee will hold regular virtual meetings, reflecting the need for coordinated and efficient action by the private and public sectors, governments, international financing institutions and the United Nations, said a statement from UNWTO.

Working closely

“Since the start of the pandemic, UNWTO has been working closely with the World Health Organisation to guide the tourism sector, as it faces the Covid-19 challenge,” said the statement.

The meeting conducted virtually for public health reasons further emphasised the call for international cooperation for a united response reflecting the deep economic ripple effect and social cost of the pandemic.

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“This unprecedented public health emergency has already become an economic crisis which will come at a social cost,” said UNWTO Secretary General Zurab Pololikashvili. 

He added that tourism was the hardest hit sector and that all best estimates had been overtaken by the changing reality.

“Without any certainty over how long this crisis will last or what the final economic and structural impact on tourism might be, all participants were united in their deep concern over the millions of jobs at risk of being lost,” said Mr Pololikashvili.

UNWTO Covid-19 Health Tourism and Wildlife Cabinet Secretary Najib Balala

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