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We can’t travel, but we can take measures to preserve jobs in the tourism industry

by Caroline Freund | Source: World Bank Group



The tourism industry is at a standstill. Even as policymakers around the world seek ways to mitigate the economic impact of the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic, recovery can’t begin until the health emergency is under control and travel restrictions can be lifted safely. The longer the health crisis lasts, the more difficult for companies to survive, especially the small- and medium-sized enterprises that make up a big share of the tourism ecosystem, and greater the distress for workers.


Governments are rightly worried. The latest figures from the World Travel and Tourism Council show that 50 million jobs are at risk in the sector globally , a reduction of between 12 and 14 percent. In many countries, tourism is the largest contributor to GDP, forex and employment – particularly for vulnerable groups, women and youth. For developing countries strongly dependent on tourism for gross domestic product— 20 percent for 37 countries —the health crisis is already a national economic crisis.


Early on, many unaffected destinations invested in marketing campaigns to attract those who still wished to travel. It is now clear that marketing any kind of travel - even domestic - is irresponsible.  In line with WHO guidance, we all have a responsibility to do our part to ‘flatten the curve’ and curb the transmission of the disease. This means restricting movement and reducing all forms of interaction - including travel.


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