By Michael Jarvis, London UK
With Cayman and other regional and global tourist destinations planning strategies on how best and safest to restart the sector, a United Nations report has estimated the vast economic impact the COVID-19 pandemic has had on the industry.
Vaccine roll-out is already at the heart of this strategy in Cayman and according to the UN report, it’s also vital to the global economy especially for tourism-reliant destinations.
The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) has projected that the global economy could lose over US$4 trillion across 2020 and 2021 due to the impact of the pandemic.
The report, jointly presented with the UN World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), says international tourism and its closely linked sectors suffered an estimated loss of $2.4 trillion in 2020 alone due to direct and indirect impacts of a steep drop in international tourist arrivals.
A rebound in international tourism is expected in the second half of this year, but the UNCTAD report still shows a loss of between $1.7 trillion and $2.4 trillion in 2021, compared with 2019 levels.
However, it warns that a similar loss may occur this year, noting that the tourism sector’s recovery will largely depend on the uptake of COVID-19 vaccines globally.
“The world needs a global vaccination effort that will protect workers, mitigate adverse social effects and make strategic decisions regarding tourism, taking potential structural changes into account,” UNCTAD Acting Secretary-General Isabelle Durant said.
UNWTO Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashvili said: “Tourism is a lifeline for millions, and advancing vaccination to protect communities and support tourism’s safe restart is critical to the recovery of jobs and generation of much-needed resources, especially in developing countries, many of which are highly dependent on international tourism.”
THE VACCINES FACTOR
With COVID-19 vaccinations being more pronounced in some countries than others, the report points out that tourism losses are reduced in most developed countries but worsened in developing countries.
It shows that countries in the Caribbean - including Cayman - North America and Western Europe are still among the least affected by the tourism crash, while the brunt of the impact has been felt by North-East Asia, South-East Asia, Oceania, North Africa and South Asia.
COVID-19 vaccination rates are uneven across countries, ranging from below 1% of the population in some countries to above 60% in others.