Tourism leaders from across the Americas have committed to more ethical and inclusive tourism as the sector rebounds to drive economic recovery in the region. The 68th meeting of the UNWTO Regional Commission for the Americas brought together high-level delegations from 20 countries.
The meeting saw participants working together around shared priorities, with a focus on jobs and education, boosting investment in the sector and advancing sustainability and climate action efforts.
Americas: Strong demand drives tourism recovery
According to UNWTO data, tourism in the Americas has quickly recovered from the impacts of the pandemic.
International arrivals to destinations across the Americas reached 86% of pre-pandemic levels at the end of the first quarter of 2023. The region’s international aircraft seat capacity is also near pre-pandemic levels, at 97%.
Several destinations in the region are already exceeding pre-pandemic levels in terms of international arrivals, including Saint Martin (+51%), El Salvador (+26%), Colombia (+18%), Virgin Islands and the United States. (+17%), Guatemala (+14%), Honduras (+13%) and the Dominican Republic (+11%).
Strong demand from the US external market played a key role in the recovery.
UNWTO Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashvili said: “For the Americas, the recovery in tourism has been rapid and remarkable. Our Regional Commission meeting clearly expressed a shared commitment to making the most of this recovery by building a stronger, more resilient and more sustainable sector that delivers real benefits to millions of people across the region.
High-level support for the Regional Commission meeting
On the eve of the Regional Commission meeting, UNWTO Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashvili met with Ecuador’s President Guillermo Lasso, demonstrating his government’s strong support for tourism as a key pillar of development sustainable economy, both in the country and throughout the region. Ministers and vice-ministers of tourism from 15 countries also participated in the Commission meeting. The main achievements of the Commission meeting include:
Legal protection for tourists: Chile, Costa Rica, Haiti and Honduras have all announced that they will adhere to the UNWTO International Code for the Protection of Tourists. This historic legal first aims to provide comprehensive and harmonized legal protection to tourists, thereby strengthening confidence in travel and making the responsibilities of different tourism stakeholders more transparent. In the region, Ecuador, Guatemala, Paraguay and Uruguay have already signed up to the Code.
Tourism law: UNWTO announced its intention to create the first UNWTO Observatory on Tourism Law for Latin America and the Caribbean
Tourism education and youth empowerment: Member States were briefed on UNWTO’s progress in one of its priority areas, with achievements in the region including UNWTO Academy courses held in Argentina and in Mexico, and a collaboration on specialized tourism courses with Anáhuac University in Mexico.
Tourism investments: UNWTO has produced investment guides for the Dominican Republic, Colombia and Paraguay, with seven more guides focused on countries in the region expected to follow. In Quito, UNWTO also organized a special investment seminar and announced the next stage of its collaboration with CAF, the Latin American Investment Bank.
Collaboration: UNWTO signed a memorandum of understanding with Honduras on tourism for sustainable development.
In accordance with UNWTO statutory obligations, members of the Americas have agreed:
Argentina and Paraguay will serve as vice-presidents of the UNWTO General Assembly, which will be held in October.
The Dominican Republic will chair the Regional Commission for the Americas for the period 2023-2025. Argentina and Paraguay will serve as vice-presidents for the same period.
Colombia and Jamaica will serve on the UNWTO Executive Council for 2023-2027.
The 69th meeting of the Regional Commission will be held in Cuba in 2024. Peru will then host the 70th meeting in 2025.
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