Towards a Resilient Tourism Sector
Brief & Concept Note
1. Why is this topic important ?
Mainstreaming disaster risk reduction into the tourism sector into all aspects of national disaster
risk and emergency management structures and processes has historically been driven by the
occurrence of disaster events. Especially those events that result in a high reduction of tourist
Direct and indirect losses to the tourism sector from disasters not only affect that sector but can
severely affect the local and national economies as well. This can be explained by the fact that
there is mounting economic dependence on income from tourism, particularly in small states,
which can ultimately affect their sustainable development.
Utilizing the valuable skills and contributions of the tourism sector and including them into all
phases of national disaster risk and emergency management structures and processes from
mitigation to recovery will increase national and community resilience and the sector’s capacity
to deal with external shocks, help secure the safety of tourists and to reduce the overall burden
on governments.
2. What gaps need to be filled?
Integration of the tourism sector into national disaster management structures and
systems is critical, as it is often not considered in the wider national planning, mitigation
and response strategies of disaster management services and agencies.
Increase the understanding of public and private businesses, host governments and
communities of the tourism sectors’ critical systems, functions, skills and capacities that
can be utilized and contribute to increasing national and community resilience.
Identification of relevant interfaces between the stakeholders and regular training of the
3. What commitments are expected?
The tourism sector to consider and adopt disaster risk reduction measures in order to
build more resilience into the sector.
Concept Note
Monday 16 March 2015, 12:00-13:30
Room and Venue
Hagi Hall, Sendai International Conference Centre
Organizing Team
UNISDR Focal Point
Timothy Wilcox ([email protected])
Background and
Though the tourism sector at an aggregated global level is resilient
and constantly growing, at a destination level it is highly volatile
economic activity. Therefore any direct or indirect dependency
needs to take these specific circumstances carefully in account to
allow for a resilient and sustainable development at the local and
national level.
Accelerating resilience within the sector means a re-alignment and
integration of tourism systems within the national and local
disaster risk and emergency management sector. It further requires
the responsibility of increasing this resilience to be shared amongst
all relevant stakeholders. Being aware of the needs to do this,
partners can attend to, their capacity and capabilities and their
ability to draw on external sources to establish partnerships with
other stakeholders who share responsibility to mitigate the impacts
of hazards and disasters.
The tourism sector is mostly made up of small and medium
enterprises therefore its resilience relies on a complex set of
networks. Due to the nature of its infrastructure and attractions
which are at the same time in higher risk areas such as beach and
coastal fronts, river valleys, mountain regions and remote islands.
An actual or perceived disaster event can interrupt tourism
demand for a significant duration of time. These SMEs will often be
locally owned and operated with little understanding or application
of business continuity management practices to help them through
crises. Tourism products are also predominantly immaterial and
often depend on perceptions, as a result, the nature of the tourism
sector markets, services and operations make it more susceptible
to crises.
In many smaller developing countries, the tourism sector often
plays a significant part in the national income of that nation. With
the frequency and intensity of annual climate related hazards it is
imperative that this sector is resilient and contributes to
sustainable economic development as disasters can seriously
undermine sustainable development gains and put private and
public investments at risk.
A resilient tourism sector, its resources, technical skill and potential
contributions, are currently a neglected asset in the disaster risk
and emergency management sector. Due to a consistent lack of
dialogue and understanding between the two sectors, it is critical
coordination, information
sharing and
communication is strengthened between them in order for critical
functions to be prepared before a crisis and also able to better
absorb, restore and recover from crises. Furthermore, working
with the tourism sector to increase their resiliency and reduce the
risk of damage and loss they face from annual natural hazards such
as drought, flood, cyclones, hurricanes and earthquakes will
increase their ability to maintain business continuity, reduce
financial loss and ultimately contribute to sustain economic and
development growth of the local and national economy.
Session Objectives
The objectives of the session include;
 Discuss how the tourism sector is collaborating with the sectors
responsible for disasters to mitigate risks, plan, respond and
recover from disaster events;
 Discuss the challenges of integrating the tourism sector into
local, national and regional disaster risk and emergency
management systems;
 Explore existing activities in the tourism sector to build their
resilience and reduce risk from hazards and disaster events.
 Enhance our understanding of why a resilient tourism sector
will strengthen the resilience of other sectors of societies and
help contribute to the sustainable economic growth of
developing countries;
 Draw from the discussion critical recommendations that can
enhance the resilience of the tourism sector, by using the
tourism sector’s capacities to mitigate risks from hazards and
prepare and respond to disasters.
Discussion agenda
and structure
1. Opening remarks (5mns)
2. Keynote address (10mns)
3. Panel discussion (60mns)
a. Global and regional dimension of integration between
disaster risk management and tourism
b. Strategy and Practice between the public and private sectors
of tourism and disaster risk management
c. Future directions
4. Open discussion (10mns)
5. Closing (5mns)
Expected outcomes
 This session is expected to outline key objectives to accelerate
the mainstreaming of disaster risk reduction in the tourism
sector as well as the integration of the tourism sector into
disaster risk and emergency management structures. It will
gather opinions regarding what needs to be done over the next
10 years, to ensure that not only a resilient tourism sector is
strengthened but overall national resilience is increased to
mitigate risks, and to plan for, respond to, and recover from
Commitment /
announcement in
support of a post2015 framework for
To be confirmed
Expected number of
 World Tourism Organization (forthcoming) Tourism and
Emergency Management, UNWTO. Madrid
 UNWTO Resilience Planning for the Tourism Sector
(forthcoming paper)
 UNWTO (2011) Recommendations on the Use of
Georeferences, Date and Time in Travel Advice and Event
 UNWTO (2011) Toolbox for Crisis Communication in Tourism.
 UNWTO (2006) Tourist safety and Security. Practical Measures
for Destinations.
 UNISDR (2013) Global Assessment Report on Disaster Risk
 Samoa and GEF - Resilience of Tourism-reliant Communities to
Climate Change Risks project (2014)
 PATA, GIZ/GIDRM & UNISDR - Hotel Resilient – Strengthening
Resilience in the Tourism Sector (2014)
 S.A.M.O.A. Pathway (2014) Outcome Statement of the 3rd Small
Island Developing States Global Conference – Apia, Samoa

Towards a Resilient Tourism Sector