Grim UNCTAD Report Underscores Need to Safely Reopen Tourism Sector
Tourism Minister Bartlett speaks
Jamaica Tourism Minister, Hon. Edmund Bartlett, says that a report published today by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) outlining the projected fallout for the global economy and in particular countries like Jamaica, due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on tourism, further underscores the need to restore the sector by reopening on a phased basis and in a safe manner.
The report outlines that the “world’s tourism sector could lose at least US$1.2 trillion or 1.5% of the global gross domestic product (GDP), having been placed at a standstill for nearly four months due to the coronavirus pandemic.” It further indicates that “the loss could rise to US$2.2 trillion or 2.8% of the world’s GDP if the break in international tourism lasts for eight months, in line with the expected decline in tourism as projected by the UN World Tourism Organization (UNWTO).”
The report also lists Jamaica as the country which stands to suffer the greatest economic fallout, with an estimated decline of 11% of GDP, ahead of Thailand (-9%), Croatia (-8%), Portugal (-6%) and the Dominican Republic (-5%), to name a few.
The Minister noted that “as I recently indicated in Parliament, restoring our tourism sector is a matter of economic life and death. The reality is that Jamaica’s economy is dependent on the tourism industry. It contributes 50% of the foreign exchange earnings of the economy and generates 354,000 direct, indirect and induced jobs.” He added that: “Sadly, most of our tourism workers have been displaced due to the pandemic. So, the UNCTAD report underscores the fact that we have to restore the sector as quickly as possible to reverse the impact of COVID-19 on the country’s GDP.”
He explained that “the report also comes against the background of our own projections that Jamaica is expected to lose JA$146 billion from April 2020 to March 2021, due to the downturn in tourism caused by COVID-19.”
Minister Bartlett emphasized that: “The month of July, which promises to show the strongest surge of recovery, must be managed well and the new protocols that we have introduced are designed to enable a more seamless entry of Jamaicans and visitors alike.” He said that “the appointment of a new Resilient Corridor management team, led by Mr. John Byles, further underpins the surveillance and compliance of entities along the corridor and is an added step as we seek to secure the integrity of the process and continue to safeguard the health and well-being of our people.”