A new white paper addressing the impact of the war in Ukraine on local tourism businesses there and in surrounding countries was recently published. The white paper – named Tourism for Ukraine: Key Actions the Tourism Industry Can Take to Support Ukraine and Neighboring Countries – was put together by a task force comprising international organizations and experts from the region and takes a long-term view and a solutions-based approach to supporting affected tourism businesses. It aims to provide the global travel industry and travelers with a deeper understanding of the issues and impact of the war on local providers – often small, family-run, and independent enterprises – whilst offering advice on practical actions anyone in the tourism industry can take to help address these challenges.
The paper is targeted at five core groups – tourism businesses, industry associations, travel media, and content creators, universities and educational organizations, and travelers themselves. It focuses on expected long-term consequences on the tourism sector and a Master List of Actions relevant for everyone involved in tourism, followed by specific recommendations for each industry segment.
The list will help bridge the intention-action gap for individuals and businesses in tourism who want to support, but don’t know what to do or where to start. Those that take some of the recommended active steps are encouraged to report back using an online survey linked from the document.
Suggested ways that anyone can help include the following actions, among others:
- Hiring Ukrainian talent
- Continuing to promote and sell holidays to neighboring countries
- Offering training, mentorship, or access to events for tourism businesses and colleagues from the region
- Using social media channels to show solidarity for Ukraine and to fight war news fatigue
Prior to the war, Ukraine had a diverse array of tourism offerings, including cultural tourism, gastronomy, nature, skiing, wine tourism, health and wellness, and more. Many tourism and hospitality businesses have shifted their focus to humanitarian efforts, by welcoming refugees and helping them relocate, delivering humanitarian supplies to those in need, and using their communications skills to share accurate and relevant information and keep Ukraine's struggles top of mind throughout the world.
Whilst Ukraine remains the focus of the white paper, it also addresses the devastation on tourism in the surrounding countries such as Poland, Moldova, and Slovakia, which are already losing income because of a reduction in visitor numbers and housing refugees. To share more about what the people of Moldova have been doing, the National Inbound Tourism Association of Moldova (ANTRIM) released a 27-minute documentary to tell the stories of guesthouse owners across the country who provided safe refuge to their Ukrainian neighbors in need.
The task force included the State Agency for Tourism Development for Ukraine, Chernobyl Tours, the International Institute for Peace through Tourism, National Inbound and Domestic Tourism Association of Moldova, and the Adventure Travel Trade Association. Their valuable expertise and advice were essential to understanding the complexity of long-term challenges and to building the action list and strategy outlined.
They were gathered with the support of Alessandra Alonso (founder and MD of social enterprise Women in Travel CIC), JoAnna Haugen (founder of cause-driven storytelling consultancy Rooted), Beth Santos (founder of Wanderful, a leading collective of travelers and travel content creators for women worldwide) and Audrey Scott (co-founder of the tourism and marketing consultancy Uncornered Market). Their knowledge of the travel sector and experience in campaigning for women and of living and working in the region (Ukraine and Moldova) helped to shape the document.
Mariana Oleskiv, Chair of the State Agency for Tourism Development in Ukraine, called for the industry to stand with Ukraine and added:
“A new dawn will come, and when it does we need to be prepared. For that, we need your kind words, your professional advice, and your experience in the development of tourism. Ukraine will be reborn and become a new big market, with new opportunities for investment, travel, unique experiences and emotions.”
Commenting on the value and importance of this piece of work, Natalia Turcanu, Executive Director at the National Inbound and Domestic Tourism Association of Moldova (ANTRIM), said:
“We are calling for mutual support initiatives for the fragile tourism industry in Moldova, Ukraine and the region following the pandemic and the war-related insecurity circumstances, as tourism is that one sector celebrating the diversity of nations as a form of inclusion. It is also the cross-country partnership that could bring the culture and heritage of Eastern Europe closer to the rest of the world.”