A house made of stone in a rural community.

The UNWTO has launched the Global Rural Tourism Start-up Competition to identify the best ideas that will help rural communities recover from the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.

island lagoon

Given the relatively small size of the populations of the Small Island Developing States, the cost of mass vaccinations will be minimal compared to the potential benefits of restarting tourism, says the UN World Tourism Organization

A sculpture of hands placed on the façade of a building

UNWTO and UNESCO collaborate to guidelines for the responsible restart of cultural tourism to ensure inclusive access to heritage, as countries around the world recover from the pandemic.

tourists in the mountains

The 25 winning startups, selected by a jury made up of leaders from across the tourism sector, offer distinct solutions for advancing the SDGs. The winning startups will now be given expert support and backing to develop further.

passenger with mask at airport

2020 was the worst year in tourism history with 1 billion fewer international arrivals than in the previous year, due to an unprecedented fall in demand and widespread travel restrictions. A meeting of the Global Tourism Crisis Committee focused on the integration of vaccines into a harmonized approach to safe travel and launching a coordinated effort to boost confidence in the sector.

passenger with mask at airport

With countries around the world now rolling out vaccines against the COVID-19 virus, the Global Tourism Crisis Committee, organized by the World Tourism Organization, noted that this opens a critical window in the fight against the pandemic and to promote the safe resumption of international travel. Members highlighted the importance of stepping up coordination, within the framework of the International Health Regulations, of vaccination certificates to ensure the implementation of common, harmonized digital related travel principles, protocols and documents. 

Tulpar-Kel lake, next to a tourist yurt camp

This has been a difficult year for everybody across the world. The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated existing inequalities, and thrown into sharp relief the challenges we face as a human family. UNDP has emerged with a new sense of purpose to fulfill the Sustainable Development Goals, and in particular to address poverty and inequality. Here are our year’s best photos. Pictured is Tulpar-Kel lake in Kyrgyzstan. In the last decade, tourism has grown as a source of income for the Sary-Mogol population—almost everyone here is connected to the industry in some way. As the pandemic spread, the hit on tourism was felt across the country.

Southeast Asia scene

Based on the current evidence, UNWTO expects international arrivals to decline by 70% to 75% for the whole of 2020. In this case, global tourism will have returned to levels of 30 years ago, with 1 billion fewer arrivals.

A top-down view of a woman on a rustic rowboat serving food.

After partnering back in May for a campaign asking the world to be patient, responsible and “travel tomorrow”, UNWTO and CNN team up again as the restart of tourism gets underway.

rustic room

The initiative of the World Tourism Organization and Sommet Education has received 600 applications. Out of the 30 selected finalists, the three winning projects will be announced in March 2021.

tourism data

The tracker includes data on: international tourist arrivals, seat capacity in international and domestic air routes, air travel bookings, hotel searches and bookings, occupancy rates and demand for short term rentals.

A woman in her scarf staff.

UNWTO celebrates “Tourism and Rural Development” as this year’s World Tourism Day theme, as countries around the world look to tourism, as a leading employer, to drive recovery.

Mahmood Patel with tourists in Barbados

For Mahmood Patel, 2020 was supposed to be a bumper year for his Barbados-based, tourism-dependent small business ventures. They include beach-front apartments, an organic farm-to-table café and Coco Hill – a 53-acre agro-tourism rainforest that offers guided tours and is dedicated to promoting food security and land rehabilitation. The Barbadian entrepreneur says 2019 was the best year he had in almost a decade, and 2020 was tracking to be even better. But those hopes were dashed when, in March, the sector came to a standstill, as Barbados closed its borders and announced a complete lockdown to stem the spread of the coronavirus pandemic.

The Pantheon in Rome

According to the latest analysis from the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), 40% of all destinations worldwide have now eased the restrictions they placed on international tourism in response to COVID-19.

Scenic image of a lake surrounded by trees and snow-topped mountains.

The enormous toll of COVID-19 on international tourism has now become clear. The latest edition of the UNWTO World Tourism Barometer shows that the near-complete lockdown imposed in response to the pandemic led to a 98 per cent fall in international tourism in May when compared to 2019. This dramatic fall places many millions of livelihoods at risk, including in developing countries. As the situation continues to evolve, the United Nations specialized agency provides the first comprehensive insight into the impact of the pandemic, both in tourist numbers and lost revenues.