In the second series of its information note on tourism and COVID-19, UNWTO has highlighted the serious impact that the pandemic could have on the livelihoods of these destinations. According to the latest data from the United Nations specialized agency, tourism represents more than 30% of total exports in most of the 38 SIDS. In some countries, this proportion is as high as 90%, making them especially vulnerable to declining tourist numbers.
Such a major shock translates into a massive loss of jobs and a sharp decline in foreign exchange and tax revenue, slowing the ability of public spending and the ability to implement necessary measures to support livelihoods during the crisis. warns UNWTO.
International tourists fell 47% in the first four months
International tourist arrivals have dropped dramatically, and destinations that depend on the sector for employment and economic well-being, such as small islands, will be hit hardest.
In 2019, SIDS welcomed some 44 million international tourist arrivals, and the sector earned export earnings of $ 55 billion. International tourist arrivals decreased by 47% in the first four months of this year.
UNWTO Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashvili said: “The COVID-19 pandemic has caused an unprecedented disruption. International tourist arrivals have dropped dramatically, and destinations that depend on the sector for employment and economic well-being, such as small islands, will be hit hardest. As such, measures to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 in these states and to stimulate the recovery of tourism are now more critical than ever. ”
Informal workers and women at higher risk.
The United Nations estimates that SIDS economies could shrink 4.7% in 2020 compared to 3% of the world economy.
The UNWTO briefing note also highlights the risk posed to those working in the informal economy by the sudden drop in tourist arrivals to SIDS. As a sector, tourism is one of the leading employers globally and, according to the International Labor Organization (ILO), more than half of all workers in the accommodation and food service sector in most reporting data of the SIDS are women. In many, this proportion is even higher, even in Haiti and Trinidad and Tobago (70% +).
At the same time, workers in the informal economy are at risk of falling into poverty, as the impact of COVID-19 is felt in small island developing states and other low- and middle-income countries around the world, too.