In order to improve ties between tourism and public health in Europe’s smallest nations, UNWTO will collaborate with the WHO Regional Office for Europe (WHO/Europe).
The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the need of strengthening economies and public health systems with higher sustainability and resilience. The two UN agencies will increase their cooperation and further extend their relationship as they recognise the need to draw lessons from the crisis. The UNWTO presented the case for boosting health and sustainable tourism in small nations, including the 11 European countries with less than 2 million inhabitants, during the eighth high-level conference of the WHO/Europe Small Countries Initiative (SCI), held in Bečići, Montenegro.
“COVID-19 showed that any crisis that threatens the health, safety, and security of people, communities, and the environment is also a risk to tourism itself. I am confident that strong cooperation at all levels will place health high on the tourism agenda. It will make for healthy tourists, healthy communities, a healthy environment, and healthy economies for current and future generations.” said UNWTO Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashvili.
Montenegro Statement on health and tourism
The ministerial event, which was themed “Towards better health and well-being in small countries of the WHO European Region,” concentrated on two issues that are currently at the top of the agenda for small countries: developing healthy and sustainable tourism and dealing with emergencies (long-term prevention, health system preparedness, response, and recovery). During the conference, the “Montenegro Statement” was unanimously endorsed and the “Roadmap towards better health in small countries in the WHO European Region 2022–2025” was presented.
The “Montenegro Statement” acknowledges the close ties between tourism and health in today’s globalised society and the importance of travel and tourism for small-country economies, employment opportunities, and way of life. It emphasises the need for cooperation and collaboration and supports the formation of a coalition of partners on health and tourism that will be jointly coordinated by the WHO Regional Office for Europe and the UNWTO in order to strengthen the case for policy measures and facilitate country dialogue.
Since the COVID-19 pandemic’s outbreak, UNWTO and WHO have maintained regular coordination, and WHO has taken part in the Global Tourism Crisis Committee, which was established in March 2020 to direct the tourism industry, develop a sector-wide response to the unprecedented challenge posed by the pandemic, and restart tourism with data-driven decisions supported by scientific evidence.