Dr Taleb Rifai, former UN WTO secretary calls for ‘safe’ tourist areas to be created


Tourist destinations will have to consider offering Corona-free hotels, beaches and areas to ensure that visitors feel safe ‘from the minute they leave home until they return”.

The initiative was voiced by  Dr Taleb Rifai, the Former Secretary General of the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) and chairman of the ITIC advisory board.

He was speaking at a new grassroots initiative with leaders from the travel and tourism industry joining from 76 countries the #rebuildingtravel globally: High Level Taskforce Meeting.

At the meeting, hosted by ETurboNews, Dr Rafai revealed his four pillars for the recovery of the travel & tourism sector.

Rebuilding.travel started two weeks ago and already many of the who’s who in the global travel and tourism industry as part of the group. Today membership has increased to 102 countries.

In a follow up to initial plan, Dr Rifai was clear that as the world moves from the containment to the recovery phase, the whole economy was more important than our specific industry.

But travel & tourism are essential for employment and the economies of many countries worldwide said Dr Rifai, speaking from Amman, Jordan, to a virtual gathering of industry and government leaders from around the world.

Speaking second to the Taskforce, he offered his own four point roadmap for recovery.

First he said is making domestic tourism a priority. “It does not contribute to balance of trade or bring in foreign currency but it it keeps facilities open and maintains employment,” he said. It reflects his own philosophy that “we should encourage people to enjoy their country,” something he admitted had not always been the case and had sometimes caused conflict between visitors and local people.

Second he said was the need to concentrate on the digital sector. “The future of tourism is centred around technology,” said Dr Rafai. “This is a main pillar of the post-corona era.

“Everything is going to be from home and we must start thinking outside the box. I have attended weddings where the priest is on one line marrying people elsewhere.” 

Number three, he said, is training: “Our new post-corona era will be completely different. How we qualify our waiters – they will need trained to do packing for home delivery.” He said hotels will need to be more clean, training of staff to ensure the very best sanitisation will become a priority as destinations “compete with each other”.

Fourth, he said, every country must put money in the hands of people to encourage spending. “Spending is very, very important,” he said.

He urged destinations to prepare now for setting side certain areas that are corona free. “Destinations must start thinking about this: certain areas, certain hotels, certain beaches… that mean people are safe from minute the arrive until they return to their homes.”

And these protocols will need certification, he said. “You cant have any protocol if you don’t have certification. This is something you will need to see in the future.”