Up to 100 million tourism jobs could be lost worldwide by the Coronavirus Pandemic, which would lead to a reduction in world GDP of up to 2.8%, according to the United Nations, which urges to intensify international cooperation in relation to measures on tourism, travel and border management.
In the report “Tourism and COVID-19” presented this past Tuesday, the entity warns of the short and long-term consequences of governments adopting unilateral decisions, including the possible negative impact on broader recovery efforts and on the consumer confidence for international tourism.
The document, produced by the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), one of the United Nations specialized agencies, notes that, as countries gradually remove travel restrictions and the sector slowly restarts in many parts of the world, health must remain a priority. Therefore, coordinated protocols must be established that protect workers, communities and travelers, while supporting companies and employees.
In a message conveyed on the occasion of the publication of the report, the Secretary General of the United Nations, António Guterres, recalled that tourism is one of the most important economic sectors in the world that employs one in ten people and provides sustenance to hundreds of millions more, in addition to boosting economies and allowing countries to prosper.
The crisis is “a great‘ shock” for developed economies, but for developing countries it is an emergency, particularly for many small island developing states and African countries, the Secretary General lamented. Global flows of foreign direct investment (FDI) are expected to decline by as much as 40% in 2020, and developed countries will also suffer.
Unprecedented And Unpublished Impact
International tourist travels that reached 1.5 billion in 2019 (around another 9 billion people traveled within their countries) could fall this year by between 58% and 78%. This puts at risk up to 100 million direct jobs in tourism, and tourism spending could decrease between 910,000 million dollars and 1.2 trillion, which would reduce the world gross domestic product (GDP) between 1.5% and 2.8%.
Small businesses (which support 80% of world tourism) are particularly vulnerable. Women and the young population (between 15 and 24 years old), the groups with the highest representation in the sector, with 54% and 21%, respectively, in addition to workers in the informal economy, are those most at risk.
Increased Furtive Hunting
Tourism is also a key pillar for the conservation of natural and cultural heritage and the sudden drop in income has led to an increase in poaching and the destruction of habitat in and around protected areas.
7% of world tourism is related to wildlife, a segment that grows 3% annually. In many African destinations, wildlife accounts for up to 80% of visits, and in some small island developing countries, revenues from tourism have also funded marine conservation efforts. 90% of countries closed world heritage sites, with socio-economic consequences for communities that depend on tourism. Furthermore, 90% of museums (85,000) closed during the crisis and it is estimated that 13% never will reopen.
Five Priority Areas For Recovery
To aid recovery, the report advocates mitigating the socio-economic impacts of the crisis, in particular women’s employment and economic security, and maximizing the use of technology in the sector – including investment in digital skills, in particular for working people who are temporarily unemployed and for job seekers.
There is commitment to boosting competitiveness and resilience throughout the tourism value chain, supporting the development of tourism infrastructures and quality services that allow other related sectors or diversifying markets, products and addressing seasonality and promoting demand during all year round, among others.
It considers necessary to promote sustainability and green growth, as well as coordination and alliances to restart and transform the sector with a view to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG), “ensuring that the resumption and recovery of tourism put people first and work together to ease and lift travel restrictions in a responsible and coordinated manner.
The crisis is also, therefore, an opportunity to rethink the tourism sector and its contribution to the SDGs, nature and the Paris Agreement on climate change, that is, to work towards a more sustainable, inclusive and resilient tourism, the report points out.