G20 Tourism Ministers’ Meeting

Tourism can kickstart economic recovery, with the right policy support, ILO Director-General tells G20 Ministers

Tourism can play a critical role in kickstarting the global economy, but special measures to support vulnerable worker groups will be essential, along with social dialogue and effective cross-sectoral policies.

Statement | 07 October 2020
© G20
Thank you, Chair, Ministers.

It’s clear now that massive disruption to tourism revenues and jobs will continue well into 2021, and that the sector will continue to need your Governments’ support to mitigate the economic and social impacts.

But tourism is known for its ability to overcome crises and downturns. We saw this after SARS, after the Asian tsunami and after the global financial crisis. And if we get our strategy right, tourism can do that again, and play a critical role in kickstarting the global economy once again.


Let me highlight some points that I think will be particularly important in making your actions effective.

First, as the International Union of Foodworkers emphasizes, we need special measures to support women, young people, and migrant workers. They are the backbone of the tourism workforce worldwide - but they are also vulnerable. Ensuring that they have access to health and social protection is key, and some G20 countries have already taken very important measures to extend health services to migrant workers during this pandemic.

Secondly, one reason the tourism industry is so valuable as an economic catalyst is its diversity. But this can also mean that failure in one sub-sector can affect an entire value chain, from civil aviation to accommodation and food services. So we need measures that create bridges between sectors and countries, backed by strong and unprecedented policy co-ordination at the international level.

And that is why I welcome the “100 Million Jobs Recovery Plan” put forward by the World Travel and Tourism Council. It represents the kind of concrete multilateral action, uniting public and private sectors, that the world urgently needs.

And this brings me to my final point. As the United Nations report on COVID-19 and the tourism sector in August also highlighted, we need social dialogue involving government, employers’ and workers’ organizations, to create the effective policies and build the trust we are going to need for a safe and inclusive recovery.

Ladies and gentlemen,

In concluding, allow me to draw to your attention a safety checklist of measures to help the accommodation and hospitality sectors that the ILO has recently published. They are designed to be easily adapted to help other parts of the tourism industry, particularly those where human interaction is essential.

With this checklist, Chair, and its other resources, the ILO stands ready to be of assistance in all ways that you might find helpful.

Thank you.