Tourist landmarks of the country can and should be enjoyed, but measures and protocols must be followed to overcome the COVID-19 pandemic

Participants in the meeting agreed on the importance of following protocols and measures to help the country contain the spread of the novel coronavirus.

Representatives of the UN family and of the tourism sector in in North Macedonia discussed challenges facing this sector of the economy due to the COVID-19 pandemic, in an online meeting yesterday.

Participants in the meeting agreed on the importance of following protocols and measures to help the country contain the spread of the novel coronavirus, ahead of the peak of the season. While there are many challenges, the beautiful touristic destination of the country can be enjoyed responsibly.

“Tourism has a major role in the current situation, because what happens in the tourism sector is not only about that part of the economy, but about health, about the well-being of the people of the country, about the whole economy and the local development,.” said Rossana Dudziak, UN Resident Coordinator in North Macedonia. “What is important for all of us is to fully understand that life must continue, work must continue, but measures and protocols must be followed to avoid greater damage.”

For Jihane Tawilah, head of the World Health Organization (WHO)  in Skopje, the reality is that we need to live with the virus for a long time to come and any cluster of cases that would be related to a specific gathering or tourist area will be detrimental to the business let alone the impact on public health.

“Redefining and diversifying ways to enhance tourism in times of COVID-19:  it might be an opportunity to think of a new tourism, be innovative and do things differently to improve services safety, quality and advance safety and security of the clients and staff.  A safe and enjoyable tourism can become the norm”, Tawilah said.

Krste Blazeski, chairman of the Hotel Association of Macedonia (HOTAM) informed about the difficulties facing the tourism sector since the beginning of the pandemic and talked about the importance of the joint efforts in successfully passing through the crisis.

“Things are hard and will get even harder. At this point, we are trying to minimize the losses. We all need to be realistic and innovative; we must act jointly to pass this crisis hoping for better results next year”, Blazeski said. “There are many unknow things. We need greater joint efforts to deal with the crisis. From greater enforcement of determined protocols and measures, to better coordination, and greater understanding that we all need to make some sacrifices.”

Blazeski also talked about the efforts to preserve jobs and salaries.

“It was very difficult for some of our members to keep paying salaries and costs without any income at all. Last year we had difficulties to find workers. Now, we are struggling to keep those that we have, to not lose their jobs and ensure that we will be able to get out of this crisis together”, Blazeski added.

Darko Dimovski from the Federation of Trade Unions, representing the Union of the workers in the tourism and hospitality, stressed out the long-term importance of preserving jobs in the current situation.

“We work hard and we participated in the Government’s process of creating measures to protect jobs, because we don’t want people that work to lose their jobs now and to leave the country, as soon as the crisis calms down.”

Participants to the meeting agreed that the key things for successfully overcoming the difficult situation caused by the pandemic is to be innovative, realistic, prudent and for everyone to act more responsibly by wearing masks, keeping distance and washing hands frequently and thoroughly.

Written by
Aleksandar Dimishkovski
Communications and Advocacy Officer
Aleksandar Dimishkovski
UN entities involved in this initiative
United Nations Resident Coordinator Office
World Health Organization