WASHINGTON, USA – Ministers and high-level authorities of tourism of member states of the Organization of American States (OAS) urged regional efforts to help rebuild and revive tourism following the COVID-19 pandemic, as essential for sustainable development and economic growth in the region, at the XXV Inter-American Congress of Ministers and High-Level Authorities of Tourism.
During the Congress, held virtually and organized by the OAS and the government of Paraguay, leaders of the sector adopted the Declaration of Paraguay, in which they:
- Recognized the importance of building resilience in the tourism sector so that tourism recovery may be robust and sustained;
- Called for inter-agency and inter-sectoral collaboration among health, immigration, transport and tourism officials, to provide appropriate guidance on how to build trust among travelers;
- Called for a flexible recovery plan of action that includes standardized biosafety and protocols, that facilitates safe and efficient travel, sustainable tourism that considers climate change and tourism communities, public-private partnerships, and continued support for MSMEs;
- Urged equitable distribution of vaccines among and within countries in order to support a safe and successful resumption of tourism, and
- Supported the recovery of community tourism, and the consolidation of the Indigenous Tourism Collaborative, among other commitments.
While opening the Congress, the OAS secretary-general, Luis Almagro, said: “We should focus our efforts on making this recovery sustainable by generating more opportunities for progress, particularly for people in situations of vulnerability, that may otherwise fall back into poverty. Rebuilding and reviving tourism, particularly in countries where the sector is dominant, will help to improve economic outcomes in many areas. We must also be forward-thinking and give real meaning to the oft-used slogan of ‘building back better.’
For her part, the minister of the national secretariat of tourism of Paraguay, Sofía Montiel de Afara, explained how tourism “has become one of the economic sectors that demonstrated a great capacity for creativity, flexibility and resilience. [Today] we are promoting an industry that is reborn and must get back on its feet, accompanying the pace at a global level and the desire to reconnect as nations and as cultures, from business, from tourism in its diversity, which stands as a fundamental pillar in this post-pandemic stage. We are here to add collaboration and unify ideas as a region.”
The meeting served also as an opportunity for launching the Indigenous Tourism Collaborative of the Americas, a network of nearly 100 Indigenous and industry organizations and leaders that will work together to support sustainable Indigenous tourism development across the region.
At the closing ceremony, tourism ministers and authorities also agreed that Ecuador will be the host of the XXVI Inter-American Congress of Ministers and High-Level Authorities of Tourism in 2024.