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  • Arrivals at the Caribbean suffered a fall by 43 percent during the firsts four months of this year.

    Arrivals at the Caribbean suffered a fall by 43 percent during the firsts four months of this year. | Photo: AFP/Daniel Slim

Published 29 June 2020
Opinion

The tourism forecast for the upcoming months of 2020 shows a possible decline in international arrivals by 58 percent to 78 percent.

The United Nation's World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) Monday warned that the COVID-19 crisis risks devastating the economies of Small Island Developing States (SIDS).

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Since tourism accounts for over 30 percent of total exports in the majority of SIDS, and reach 80 percent in some of them, the organization qualifies the economic impact in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic as "a major shock" that "translates into a massive loss of jobs, a sharp decline in foreign exchange and tax revenues which curbs public spending capacity and ability to deploy the measures necessary to support livelihoods through the crisis."

The U.N. agency recalled that in 2019, SIDS received 44 million international tourist arrivals, about three percent of the world’s total. Likewise, exports from international tourism reached US$55 billion.

However, the forecast for the upcoming months of 2020 shows a possible decline in international arrivals by 58 percent to 78 percent.

The Caribbean represents 43 percent of those destinations while Singapore, the Dominican Republic, and Cuba amount 60 percent of the total international tourist arrivals in SIDS.

Besides, the report highlights that the weight of tourism is much larger in the Caribbean, where 34 percent of all exports are generated by international visitor spending.

As the U.N. estimates that SIDS economies could shrink by 4.7 percent in 2020 as compared to three percentfor the overall economy, UNWTO warns that women and informal workers are at high stake and due massive job losses these groups could fall into poverty.

Data from small island states published today reveals that female workers employed in the accommodation and food services reach more than 70 percent in Haiti and Trinidad and Tobago, and more than 50 percent of the total workforce in 21 out of the 38 states that SIDS comprise.

On the other hand, the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic is heavily striking these countries already as UNWTO reports that arrivals in SIDS countries are estimated to have dropped by 47 percent in the period January–April 2020 which represents a loss of 7.5 million visitors.

Particularly, the Caribbean suffered a fall by 43 percent during the firsts four months of this year.

To mitigate the impact of the crisis Caribbean islands such as Aruba, Bahamas, Bermuda, and the Dominican Republic will open to international tourism from July 1 while Puerto Rico will receive foreign visitors from July 15; Turks and Caicos from July 22, and Cuba is expected to allow the first visitors in late August.

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