The Middle East tourism sector lost roughly $25bn in the first quarter (1Q) of 2020, according to a joint report by Arab Tourism Organization, Arab Civil Aviation Organization, and Arab Air Carriers Organization. Tourism represents an average of 14.2% of national GDP across the region.
The three regional organisations said the region’s aviation sector lost about $8bn in 1Q 2020, while the regional tourism sector lost about $12.96bn in investments.
The global tourism sector has suffered greatly since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, as many countries suspend flights.
More importantly, stakeholders have highlighted the threat of losing about 1 million permanent jobs and hundreds of thousands of seasonal jobs across the region. This could spell disaster, particularly for those whose livelihoods depend on the tourism and travel sector.
The three regional organisations forecast that the coronavirus crisis could mean 75 million jobs are lost worldwide in the tourism sector. They added that the tourism sector is considered one of the main economic sectors worldwide, contributing to 10.4% of global GDP.
The organisations have announced the formation of a working group to manage the region’s tourism crisis, and to contain the negative impact of the coronavirus on tourism. Measures include bringing in a number of ministers concerned with tourism in addition to the three organisations, to follow up on events and find solutions. They also announced that joint workshops and training courses will be held once the crisis ends for those concerned in the three sectors. The trainings are designed to help workers overcome the effects of losses, and to promote this major industry.
The organizations expressed their hope for the pandemic’s containment with the least possible harm to people’s health. They also hoped for a rapid return to economic stimulation.