MADRID — Though kept apart physically, the 65th meeting of the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) Regional Commission for the Americas saw the region’s 22 member states more united than ever in their determination to harness the power of tourism to recover from the economic and social impact of COVID-19 and drive future growth.

In addition to allowing member states to share their responses to the shared challenge, discussions focused on plans for sustainable recovery and future resilience, with an emphasis on the potential of digitization, new ideas and boosting investment in green business models.

“The temporary suspension of tourism has had a significant impact on the Americas. This meeting showed the shared determination to grow back stronger and better once the conditions allow,” says Zurab Pololikashvili, UNWTO secretary-general. “Sustainability and innovation will be at the heart of tourism’s recovery — both in the Americas and in every other global region. The sector’s return to growth will be a lifeline for many millions of people across the Americas, while also helping protect and promote the region’s many cultures and natural heritage.”

Reflecting the dynamic nature of tourism and the sector’s ability to adapt, the meeting featured the announcement of a joint collaboration between UNWTO and the Interamerican Development Bank (IDB) designed to promote digital transformation and positive change. The ‘Beyond Tourism Innovation Challenge,’ will identify the best new ideas for the disruption of tourism, with a focus on sustainability and creating opportunities for all.

The meeting of the Commission for the Americas also saw a presentation of UNWTO’s joint project with the IFC (International Finance Corporation). The ‘Green Investments for Sustainable Tourism‘ initiative is designed to promote more investment in the greening of the sector, with a special emphasis on hospitality and on small- and medium-sized businesses.

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