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G20 Summit: Observatory for Sustainable Tourism in South Tyrol contributes to UNWTO Recommendations for the Transition to a Green Travel and Tourism Economy

Monitoring public health for a responsible restart of tourism


UNWTO has served as tourism’s global voice as the Tourism Ministers of the G20 nations met to devise a way forward for an inclusive, resilient, and sustainable recovery for the sector. Prominently featured was also a new approach of the Observatory for Sustainable Tourism in South Tyrol to monitor public health and its link to sustainability.

Upon assuming Presidency of the G20, Italy has drawn on UNWTO data to highlight the impact the pandemic has had on tourist numbers globally and how this translates into lost jobs and revenues, as well as lost opportunities for social development. Addressing the meeting, UNWTO Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashvili, stressed the continued need for coordination at the very highest level, in order to advance “common, harmonized criteria for the easing of travel restrictions, and for increased investment in systems that support safe travel, including testing on departure and on arrival.”

With the crisis far from over, the Secretary-General welcomed the G20 Rome Guidelines for the Future of Tourism and called for “schemes aimed at supporting the survival of tourism jobs and businesses to be sustained and, wherever possible, expanded, especially as millions of livelihoods continue to be at risk”. Italy’s Minister of Tourism, Massimo Garavaglia, outlined the G20’s priorities, including safe mobility, supporting tourism jobs and businesses, building resilience against future shocks, and advancing the green transformation of the sector. Furthermore, the Tourism Ministers recalled that the current crisis represents an opportunity to rethink and restart tourism, with an emphasis on guiding the sector towards greater sustainability.

Rethinking tourism

The G20 Tourism Ministers committed to taking action in driving the digital transformation of the sector, with particular reference to ensuring everyone has fair access to the opportunities that will come from greater innovation, and in promoting more investment in green tourism infrastructure.

The new UNWTO Recommendations for the Transition to a Green Travel and Tourism Economy, developed in partnership with the G20 Tourism Working Group, were identified as a key resource for advancing progress in the policy area of “Green Transformation” of the world’s leading economies. The Recommendations present the main lines of action and showcase frontrunning initiatives of tourism businesses and destinations leading the way in achieving greater sustainability while also outlining steps that can help tourism recover from the worst crisis in its history safely and responsibly. Among the innovative examples is a new research project conducted by the Observatory for Sustainable Tourism in South Tyrol, based at Eurac Research’s Center for Advanced Studies.

INSTO Observatories monitoring health for a responsible restart of tourism

Consideration of human and environmental health plays a key role in the responsible restart and sustainable development of tourism. The two observatories of Yukon (Canada) and South Tyrol (Italy), member of UNWTO’s International Network of Sustainable Tourism Observatories, are among the first to cooperate and develop approaches for monitoring and safeguarding them.

The observatory of South Tyrol identified three dimensions in which human and environmental health can be monitored: infrastructures, services and perceptions. An integrated perspective and action in all three dimensions are crucial to restore mobility—a prerequisite for tourism recovery—and create healthier, more sustainable and resilient destinations. “The health lens is particularly appropriate because it states the impacts of an unsustainable way of living in terms of human health rather than a more abstract or remote concept like resource depletion or loss of biodiversity”, Anna Scuttari, project manager, and Felix Windegger, researcher at the South Tyrolean Observatory explain.  “It emphasizes that there is a human side to sustainability, humans are being affected. Sustainability is thus not only an environmental issue, but also a social justice issue”, underlines Harald Pechlaner, the Scientific Director at the Observatory and Head of the Center for Advanced Studies of Eurac Research. The Observatory for Sustainable Tourism in South Tyrol will therefore also deal in depth with the aspect of public health and the link to sustainability.

The Recommendations for the Transition to a Green Travel and Tourism Economy are available here:

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