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Jamaica named as tourism market worst affected by COVID- UN report

Jamaica was named among the top three of the 15 countries whose GDP was likely to suffer the most from tourism losses as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD)made the revelation in a report published on July 1.

UNCTAD in its report estimates the likely economic fallout from the pandemic in three scenarios, depending on the time it takes for international tourism to bounce back – ranging from four to 12 months.

According to the model used by UNCTAD, Jamaica stands out with a loss of 11 per cent in GDP in the moderate scenario.

The UNCTAD notes the finding as “unsurprising” as it cites tourism, as accounting for 20 per cent of
the island’s GDP.

“A similar scenario may be estimated for other SIDS where the tourism sector is a significant contributor, ” read the report.

The report further notes that the situation is further exacerbated by Jamaica’s high level of unskilled workers, which the report says is the category of workers expected to face the brunt of the challenges

“Once again, the worst affected countries are Thailand, Jamaica and Croatia. In the most extreme case employment falls 44 per cent in Jamaica if the entire tourism sector is stopped for 12 months,” read the report.

“The case in Jamaica is extreme due to a high share of unskilled workers in its tourism industry, and the contribution of the industry to GDP. The high unemployment contributes to the significant losses in GDP. It can be expected that other SIDS reliant on tourism may face similar dramatic challenges in the labour market,” added the report.

Even more, damming is that the report highlights that women will be disproportionately affected as they make up a greater percentage of the sector -amounting to about 54% of the workers in the accommodation and food services sectors.

UNCTAD’s director of international trade, Pamela Coke-Hamilton said that despite some markets slowly starting to reopen, things still remain at standstill as the major market from which tourists come such as the US are still reeling from the effects of the pandemic.

“For many countries, like the small island developing states, a collapse in tourism means a collapse in their development prospects,” said Coke-Hamilton.

UNCTAD estimates that the world’s tourism sector could lose at least $1.2 trillion, or 1.5% of the global GDP.

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