Sandals South Coast Jamaica

Jamaica among three countries hardest hit by tourism fallout, says United Nations body

Sandals South Coast Jamaica

A United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) report published on July 1 named Jamaica as one of the top three countries whose GDP is likely to suffer most from tourism losses as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Jewels Dunns River in St Ann, Jamaica. The report says Jamaica may lose 11 per cent of its GDP due to tourism decline. (Photo: visitjamaica.com)

Analysing the impact of tourism losses on the industry’s share in the national GDP, UNCTAD estimates that Jamaica and Thailand might lose 11 per cent and nine per cent of GDP respectively  

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

According to UNCTAD, the findings of the report, which names Jamaica, Thailand, and Croatia as the most impacted, is “unsurprising” as tourism makes up a significant part of their GDP. “A similar scenario may be estimated for other SIDS (Small Island Developing States) where the tourism sector is a significant contributor,” read the report.

The report also predicts hardship for low-skilled workers of which women make up the bulk.

“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 UNCTAD report says Jamaica has a high share of unskilled workers in the tourism industry. (Photo: visitjamaica)

“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. UNCTAD’s director of international trade, Pamela Coke-Hamilton, said that despite some markets slowly starting to reopen, things still remain at  a standstill.

“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 US$1.2 trillion, or 1.5 per cent of the global GDP.

–Denieca Brown