Mauritius Chair participate in high level panel discussion on COVID-19 and Green Economic Recovery: What Roles for Sustainable Tourism?

Tuesday, June 22, 2021

Tourism accounts for up to 40% and 70% of GDP in developing countries and small islands economies, respectively, and has strong linkages with other sectors that contribute to economic growth, such as agriculture, including fishing, industry and services in general. In 2019, tourism accounted for 7% of global trade and represented the third largest export category. The impact of COVID-19 on the global economy, including border closures and other restrictions on movement, has had a direct impact on the tourism sector, affecting the livelihoods of millions of people and public services on all continents.
The main objective of this high-level panel discussion was the knowledge exchange on 'Building Back Better in Tourism'. It was organized jointly by the Trade and Environment Division and Trade in Services and Investment Division of the WTO with the involvement of the Permanent Missions of both Barbados and Maldives to the WTO.
The panel of experts exchanged insights on how to improve the environmental, social and economic sustainability of the tourism sector through, in particular, responsible trade and investment. The keynote remarks were made by Mr. Chad Blackman, Permanent Representative of Barbados to the United Nations and other International Organisations in Geneva and Dr. Asim Ahmed, Permanent Representative of the Maldives to the United Nations and other International Organisations in Geneva.
Panel presentations were made by Ms. Zoritsa Urosevic of the World Tourism Organization, Cristina Arbelaez Restrepo, Ms. Constanza Olaya Cantor, Director of Quality and Sustainable Development of Tourism Colombia , Dr. Sue Snyman, Director of Research, School of Wildlife Conservation, African Leadership University , Mr. Anders Aeroe, Director, Division of Enterprises and Institutions, ITC , Mr. Peter Haxton, Policy Analyst, Regional Development and Tourism Division, OECD. Remarks were also made by Ms. Kim Kampel, Trade Adviser, Negotiations and Emerging Trade Issues, Commonwealth Small States Office, Geneva.
The final presentation was made by Dr. Sheereen Fauzel from the University of Mauritus on a paper co-authored with Mr. Boopen Seetanah, the WTO Chair in Mauritius titled, “Investigating the impact of climate change on the tourism sector of small island developing states (SIDS)” Mauritius, being such a country, has been heavily impacted by both climate change and COVID-19, given the fact that it is largely dependent on its tourism sector, which draws in foreign exchange and both directly and indirectly creates employment opportunities. Research shows that tourists themselves contribute heavily to climate change through air travel, pollution and waste generation. The study looked at 20 SIDS and used two proxies to measure climate change – temperature and precipitation. Both showed that the environment was affected negatively through tourist arrival. However, due to the COVID-19 crises, it has been found that the drastic fall in tourism movement and increasing tourist awareness regarding sustainability have improved the effects of this sector on climate change. The Mauritian government has also moved toward improving the policies which govern this sector by adopting the Mauritian Standard on Sustainable Tourism as well as taking steps to digitize the sector.
The full paper is available here.  Watch the webinar through the link here