The economic impact of COVID-19 is having a devastating effect on the global tourism industry, especially in the Caribbean which could see an escalation of poverty for workers. Unions affiliated to the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) from across the Caribbean held a virtual summit today to raise awareness of the ongoing impact of COVID-19 on jobs and communities in the region
The ITF and its 18 affiliated unions are calling on governments and employers to cooperate with trade unions to develop and implement a regional recovery plan that:
Prioritizes employment security
Guarantees free, universal access to vaccines
Re-establishes safe travel corridors
Globally the tourism industry accounts for over 300 million jobs. Travel restrictions have had a devastating effect on economies reliant on tourists. Many countries in the Caribbean rely heavily on tourism as an essential pillar of their economies and a major contributor to GDP, in turn generating much-needed employment in the region.
Tourism generates over $59 billion per year for the region. An estimated $26.4 billion has been lost due to the ongoing impact of the pandemic. Estimates also suggest that over 1.2 million jobs have been lost.
Not only have the job losses hit hard but also the spending power of workers has been significantly reduced leading to the risk of widespread poverty and stagnation of economic growth. Long-term development and recovery plans in the region are critical.
ITF General Secretary, Stephen Cotton said that: “The Caribbean is too important to ignore, and we have a duty to protect the infrastructure and livelihoods of those workers who make visiting so appealing to millions of tourists each year. We need a tripartite plan from governments, employers, and unions for recovery.
Listening to the concerns of our leaders today, it’s clear that we need action now. Investment in developing regional transport infrastructure is a good place to start”.