In 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic put on hold the world’s tourism sector. Tourism businesses and venues suspended their operations, partially or in full, and for a very prolonged period in some cases. As borders closed, the biggest economic crisis since 1950 began. The link is clear: tourism is a key economic driver and source of employment, accounting for more than 20 percent of the gross domestic product (GDP) of some of the world’s strongest economies (United Nations, 2020).
In 2020, a 73 percent drop in international arrivals and a 64 percent reduction in international tourism revenue were recorded. Some 62 million people lost their jobs in the tourism sector (United Nations World Tourism Organization [UNWTO], 2021).
To save the tourism sector, all actors must participate and form partnerships to accelerate the shift to a tourism that is sustainable, socially responsible, and supportive of communities. To face the future with greater certainty, the sector needs new and innovative tourism models, which begin with the community, and which are inclusive and equitable, respectful of the environment and of people.
The European Union-Latin America and the Caribbean (EU-LAC) Foundation and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) have therefore agreed to focus on tourism as a sector severely affected by the pandemic. This will include jointly organizing a series of events to foster dialogue and coordinate biregional perspectives on policies and initiatives in the European Union (EU), Latin America and the Caribbean for the sustainable recovery of this sector. This document is a product of one of those initiatives (a joint project of the UNDP Bureau for Latin America and the Caribbean and the EU-LAC Foundation) to promote dialogue, cooperation, contribution and the exchange of good practices, programmes, and policies to help countries develop skills and institutional capacities that will help them achieve the goals of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and build more sustainable, inclusive, and resilient tourism.
It is very important to note that this document is based on a biregional approach between the EU and Latin America and the Caribbean. Compared to other tourism-related tools previously presented by other entities, the innovative approach used here adds value to this initiative.