Holistic tourism

A holistic approach to health and tourism

The Coalition of Partners on Health and Tourism, an initiative coordinated by WHO/Europe and UN Tourism, marks the first formal collaboration between the ministries of tourism and health in 25 Member States of the WHO European Region. It recognizes the interconnection between health and tourism in our globalized world and highlights the need for joint action. As a result, countries that have joined the initiative include Albania, Armenia, Austria, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czechia, France, Georgia, Greece, Israel, Italy, Kazakhstan, Luxembourg, Malta, Monaco, Poland, Republic of Moldova, Romania, San Marino, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain and Türkiye. 

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, members of WHO/Europe’s Small Countries Initiative (SCI) – comprising 11 European countries with populations of 2 million or less and serving as a platform for innovation and collaboration in addressing health-related challenges – recognized that health and tourism can have mutual impacts on population health, health-care systems, employment and economic stability. After all, this understanding led to the establishment of the Coalition within the Region, emphasizing collaboration to generate resilience, safety, and security, thereby safeguarding the health of tourists, host communities, workers, and the environment.

WHO and UN make health a priority for developing resilient, inclusive and sustainable tourism

Across the Region, collaborative efforts in public health and tourism have been vital in bolstering resilience to and preparedness for future health crises in the Member States, while simultaneously revitalizing the sector after the COVID-19 pandemic. These efforts included the promotion of public health and social measures (PHSM) in tourist settings, health infrastructure development, digital innovations for informed travelers, and also early warning systems for and coordinated responses to emerging health threats.

The Coalition seeks to explore the risks and benefits associated with health and tourism, uncovering countries’ major challenges and needs, and distill major lessons learned from the COVID-19 pandemic. It aims to equip health systems as guardians, shielding tourists, host communities, and the workforce from potential health risks.

Over the first year, members of the Coalition will gather lessons learned from the COVID-19 pandemic. Leveraging the collective expertise from Member States, as well as considering the policy brief on “Putting health at the heart of tourism development in small countries of the WHO European Region”, the Coalition will elaborate policy recommendations on health and sustainable tourism management.

This collaborative effort signifies a paradigm shift in addressing the multifaceted relationship between health and tourism, emphasizing the importance of cross-sectoral coordination for preparedness and resilience. As the Coalition embarks on its journey, it holds the potential to reshape the future of health and tourism for the benefit of communities and economies, and for the well-being of all involved.

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