The World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) says it is solidly behind countries in Africa as the continent battles ‘Omicron,’ the new COVID-19 variant.
The discovery of the variant in South Africa has prompted travel responses from UK, US, and EU which have restricted travel to South Africa, Namibia, Botswana with Canada also banning travelers from Nigeria, Egypt, and Malawi.
In his opening speech at the 24th UNWTO General Assembly in Madrid, Spain on Wednesday, December 1, Secretary-General, Zurab Pololikashvili said solidarity between countries has defined “our joint response to a shared crisis,” and that, ‘’It is now more important than ever as our colleagues in Africa deal with the challenges of a new variant.
“UNWTO pledges to leave nobody behind – in our response and in our recovery and so I offer my full support to our African Members right now.”
Pololikashvili warned against hasty imposition of travel restrictions as they contravene World Health Organisation’s rules concerning them.
“I also repeat our call for restrictions on travel to be a very last resort and for all governments to follow WHO guidance which advises against such measures in cases like this,” he stated.
The UNWTO postulated that tourism in the current pandemic era, tourism had assumed a more relevant status like never before.
He noted, “In every global region, the pandemic has made clear the importance of our sector – for economic growth, for jobs and trade, and for protecting natural and cultural heritage. We must make the most of this opportunity – to transform goodwill into concrete support.
“And so ensure tourism gets the political and the financial backing it needs to drive recovery and get our plans for a greener, fairer and more inclusive future back on track.”