Innovation in crisis was the subject of the ITIC Tourism Investment Ministerial Panel at Monday’s WTM Virtual.
In a session entitled Rethinking the Global Travel & Tourism Industry with a Comprehensive Recovery Plan, ITIC chairman and former UNWTO Secretary-General Dr Taleb Rifai, argued that the travel sector needed urgent local investment, followed by a focus on domestic tourism and finally on international tourism.
“What governments need to do is something different, some out of the box thinking,” he said.
“The most important thing is to protect the SMEs and their jobs, if we don’t we’ll witness a domino effect in closures and bankruptcies,” stressed Greek MEP Elena Kountoura. She urged EU member states to make best use of the funding they have access to for this purpose.
Jamaica’s Minister of Tourism Edmund Bartlett explained how the country had stimulated arrivals by creating an affordable insurance policy to reassure visitors that their quarantine and repatriation expenses would be covered should they catch COVID19 on the island.
For Jordan there had been attempts at a cultural change. “We have never focused on local tourism, so this is a shift that we had to give to the private sector. It worked with some but not others,” explained Nayef Al-Fayez, the country’s Minister of Tourism and Antiquities.
Jamaica had been lobbying for international help for smaller tourism-reliant nations. “We have made a call for a resilience fund to be established to help small countries recover,” said Bartlett, adding: “Throughout the world it is the small guys who are creating ideas and converting the ideas into actual practical experiences that people pay for.”
Looking to the future, the market of ‘digital nomads’ was identified by Rifai as one of the positive opportunities to have been highlighted by the pandemic. He felt that those who could work from anywhere could be enticed abroad with long stay offers and special visas.
Jordan has been looking at developing film tourism to help its diversification while Bahrain has started to invest in its previously limited cultural tourism offering, preparing an UNESCO-listed pearl fishing city to receive international visitors by late 2021.