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  •  Local tourists visit the citadel of Amman, Jordan, 27 September 2020.

    Local tourists visit the citadel of Amman, Jordan, 27 September 2020. | Photo: EFE/EPA/ Andre Pain

Published 27 September 2020

The UN's latest report on Tourism shows hundreds of billions of dollars in losses from January to May 2020.

United Nations (UN) Secretary-General Antonio Guterres marked World Tourism Day on Sunday by urging governments to protect over 120 million jobs which are currently in jeopardy because of the restrictions imposed in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.


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"Some 120 million jobs are at risk. The impacts could lead to the loss of between 1.5 and 2.8 percent of the global GDP," the official warned in a statement. 

Guterres also pointed out that the unemployment crisis unleashed by the COVID-19 pandemic "will particularly affect the most vulnerable countries, including Small Island Developing States, the Least Developed Countries, and many African nations, where tourism can represent between 30 and 80 percent of exports."

The latest UN report on tourism shows that from January to May 2020, some $320 billion in exports from this sector were lost as tourist arrivals decreased by more than half. The report forecast that "unemployment in some countries could rise by more than 20 percentage points."

According to the International Labor Organization (ILO), in 2019 alone, Tourism accounted for 330 million jobs worldwide. Furthermore, ILO explains that "for every directly created tourism job, nearly one and a half additional jobs are created on an indirect or induced basis."

However, ILO estimates that the COVID-19 pandemic could cause 305 million job losses worldwide, many of it in the tourism sector. In major economies such as the U.S., almost 1.6 million hotel workers have been laid off. Brazil's tourism industry could lose $6.2 billion this year if public support is not provided. France placed one million people under "technical unemployment" at the end of March. This as several airlines worldwide has put their employees in temporary unemployment measures.

In this sense, the United Nations remarked today that tourism is considered "an engine for advancing prosperity" within UN's 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. "Many millions of people around the world rely on tourism for income, especially women and young people. People who might otherwise have been left behind have found decent work and the chance of a better life thanks to tourism's unique potential" Gutteres said.

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