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Global tourism industry tipped to lose 120m jobs as virus bites

By Philip Mwakio | August 31st 2020 at 00:00:00 GMT +0300

Tourists watching wildebeest migration in Maasai Mara National Reserve. [Courtesy]

The United Nations (UN) projects Covid-19 to cost the global travel and tourism industry over Sh112 trillion ($1.2 trillion) in losses.

The pandemic could also have a devastating impact on sector’s job market, putting 120 million tourism jobs at risk.

‘’Thus, 100 million to 120 million direct jobs in tourism may be wiped out, while unemployment in countries heavily reliant on tourism may spike by more than 20 per cent,” noted UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres.

In a recently published policy brief, the UN projected that international tourist numbers may decline by 58 per cent to 78 per cent this year, compared to last year.

According to its calculations, such an “immense shock” for the industry, which accounts for the bulk of some countries’ revenues, could translate into a drop of between 850 million and 1.1 billion international tourists.

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“In the first five months of this year, international tourist arrivals decreased by more than half and some Sh32 trillion ($320 billion) in exports from tourism were lost,” UN Secretary-General said earlier last week. The already sustained damages are over three times what was lost during the entire 2009 global economic crisis.

Tourism and Wildlife Cabinet Secretary Najib Balala announced recently that the country has lost over Sh80 billion since the outbreak of Covid-19.

Mr Balala said Kenya lost 50 per cent of its tourism revenue during the first half of the year, noting that the second half is equally as good as zero.

The CS said the ministry is now banking on domestic tourism as international arrivals remain low till 2021.

In 2018-2019 financial year, Kenyan tourism welcomed more than two million international tourists, earning the country Sh164 billion in revenue.

The UN noted that one in 10 people work in the tourism sector globally, noting that the unprecedented crisis threatens the well-being of millions of people.

Noting that tourism has been one of the key drivers of the global economy for years, the UN boss observed that the steep fall of export revenues from tourism will result in a drop in global gross domestic product (GDP).

The UN added that the most “optimistic” scenario implies that global GDP will shrink by Sh117 trillion ($1.17 trillion) or 1.5 per cent.

However, the UN body adds that in case of a prolonged standstill - up to eight months, the damage will rise to Sh223 trillion ($2.22 trillion) or 2.8 per cent of GDP.


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