MUGLA, Turkey 

Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair said on Friday vaccination is the only way out of the pandemic for the tourism industry.

He was speaking via video link at the Global Tourism Forum held in Bodrum, the jewel of the Turkish Riviera.

Blair said if international organizations, such as the UN, Group of 7 and Group of 20, prioritize the equitable distribution of vaccine, inoculation can be completed globally by the end of 2022.

Up to 100 million jobs worldwide are at risk as a result of the decline in tourism, he added.

David Sassoli, the president of EU Parliament, underlined in his video message that the tourism sector is crucial for the EU, saying: “Tourism made up 11.2% of total employment in Europe, and 9.5% of EU’s GDP in 2019.”

Noting that tourism feeds on many sub-sectors, Sassoli said: “We need to think of tourism with a multi-sectoral perspective and turn it into a vector that creates new cultures, new areas of interest, and stimulates demand.”

Eduardo Santander, the CEO of the European Travel Commission, said Europe is gearing up for a safe and responsible reopening.

“We are optimistic that European travelers will start international travel this summer with appropriate security measures in place,” he said.

Stressing that the digital COVID-19 travel pass will be operational from July 1, Santander said this is a great initiative to support the industry to get back to normal in time for the summer season.

The Global Tourism Forum, co-organized by Turkey’s Culture and Tourism Ministry and hosted by the Bodrum Municipality, is bringing together top figures from both world of politics and the tourism sector.

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