Coronavirus could cost 75 mln tourism jobs globally, new study says
Up to 75 million jobs are at immediate risk in global travel and tourism due to the coronavirus pandemic, says a leading industry body.
The alarming figure, based on research from World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC), shows a punishing travel and tourism GDP loss to the world economy of up to $2.1 trillion in 2020.
The latest projection of a 50 per cent increase in jobs at risk, in less than two weeks, represents a significant and worrying trend, with an astounding one million jobs being lost every day in the travel and tourism sector, due to the sweeping effect of the coronavirus pandemic.
“The number of jobs now at risk in the global travel and tourism sector is a staggering 75 million, bringing real and profound worry to millions of families around the world,” WTTC chief executive Gloria Guevara was quoted in a statement, as saying.
“This chilling new figure also represents the collective delay by many governments around the world to react quickly enough to come to the aid of a sector which is the backbone of the global economy.”
The analysis by WTTC, which represents the global travel and tourism private sector, also exposes the depth of the crisis for individual regions.
Asia-Pacific is expected to be most heavily impacted with up to 49 million jobs at risk throughout the region, representing a loss of nearly $800 billion to travel and tourism GDP.
The latest figures also suggest that in Europe, up to 10 million jobs in travel and tourism are at risk, totalling a loss of nearly $552 billion.
Germany is set to be the most affected country in Europe, with almost 1.6 million jobs at risk, followed by Russia with an estimated 1.1 million in potential job losses. Italy and the UK follow as the third most impacted, with both countries projected to lose up to one million jobs in the Travel and tourism sector.
The Americas are also expected to be hit hard by this crisis, with the United States, Canada and Mexico expected to lose up to $570 billion combined, with nearly seven million jobs in travel and tourism at risk.
Other countries expected to be hit hard by this crisis include Brazil, France, Japan, Indonesia and India.
“If urgent action is not taken within the next few days, the travel and tourism sector faces an economic meltdown from which it will struggle to recover and plunge millions of people dependent upon it for their livelihoods into debt. Not only will this have an enormous negative impact on major businesses in the travel and tourism sector around the world, the ‘domino effect’ will also result in massive job losses across the entire supply chain, hitting employees and those in self-employment,” Guevara said.
“We call on all those in positions of power to help the powerless and enact policies to support and sustain a sector which is a driving force of the global economy and responsible for generating one in five of all new jobs.”
Travel and tourism contributes to 10.4 per cent of Global GDP, is directly responsible for generating one in 10 of the world’s jobs, and for eight successive years, has outpaced the growth of the global economy.
Maldives on Wednesday announced a blanket suspension of on-arrival visa in a bid to combat the spread of the novel coronavirus.
Even before Wednesday’s announcement, the Maldives had closed its borders to arrivals from some of the worst-hit countries, including mainland China, Italy, Bangladesh, Iran, Spain, the United Kingdom, Malaysia and Sri Lanka. Visitors from three regions of Germany (Bavaria, North Rhine-Westphalia and Baden-Württemberg), two regions of France (Île-de-France and Grand Est) and two regions of South Korea were also banned from entering the country.
All direct flights to and from China, Italy, South Korea and Iran were also cancelled.
Cruise ships and foreign yachts were also banned from docking at any of the country’s ports.
On March 8, Maldives reported its first cases of the novel coronavirus, as two hotel employees tested positive for Covid-19 at a luxury resort in the archipelago. Eleven more cases — all foreigners working or staying resorts and liveaboard vessels — were later identified.
However, eight out of the 13 have made full recoveries, whilst the rest are being treated at designated quarantine facilities.
The Maldives announced a state of public health emergency on March 12, the first such declaration under a recent public health protection law.
The public health emergency declaration has allowed the government to introduce a series of unprecedented restrictive and social distancing measures, including a ban on inter-island travel of tourists, including for excursions and between resort islands.
A nationwide shut down of all guesthouses and city hotels has also been ordered. Spa facilities located on inhabited islands have also been closed.
The Covid-19 outbreak has hit the Maldivian economy hard, as travel restrictions and other preventive measures affect the country’s lucrative tourism industry, which contributes the bulk of the island nation’s state revenue and foreign reserves.
Before the pandemic, the government had been bullish about tourism prospects, targeting two million, high-spending holidaymakers this year after last year’s record 1.7 million.
However, tourist arrivals saw a year-over-year decline of 22.8 per cent in the first 10 days of this month. With arrival numbers falling, several resorts across the Maldives had been closed.
Tourism has been the bedrock of the Maldives’ economic success. The $5 billion-dollar economy grew by 6.7 per cent in 2018 with tourism generating 60 per cent of foreign income.
However, the government is at present projecting a possible 5.6 per cent economic contraction this year — an estimated $446 million hit.
The government has launched an emergency MVR 2.5 billion ($161.84 million) facility and a package of financial measures to shore up the local economy against the coronavirus pandemic.
The MVR 2.5 billion stimulus plan includes MVR 1.55 billion ($100 million) in emergency loans for businesses to meet short-term working capital needs.
The emergency facility is complemented by a package of financial measures, including a six-month moratorium on principal and interest repayments for personal and business loans sanctioned by commercial banks.
Meanwhile, Bank of Maldives (BML) has announced a $2 million short-term financing facility for the tourism industry.
The facility by the country’s largest bank allows operational resorts and guesthouses finance up to $2 million to manage their working capital requirements, with a repayment period of three years.