The impact of COVID-19 on tourism in the north

The impact of COVID-19 on tourism in the north

Tourism has been one of the fastest-growing sectors in Ghana and around the world, due to the critical role it plays as a commercial activity that creates demand and growth for many more industries. It not only contributes toward more economic activities but also generates more employment, revenues – and plays a significant role in development.

The recent outbreak of coronavirus known as COVID-19 has placed a strain on the industry, with many businesses closed while staff are laid-off for the meantime. Communities in which tourist sites are located are also battling to generate revenue for the upkeep of their families.

The sector is experiencing a rapid and sharp drop in demand and a surge in job losses at the global level, putting many Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) at risk. While airlines saw an unprecedented drop in passengers, other branches of the tourism industry faced similar setbacks -ranging from closures in the food and drink industry to guests decreasing in number within the accommodation industry.

Despite tourism’s proven resilience in responses to other crises, the depth and breadth of the current pandemic will likely have a longer-lasting effect on international tourism compared to other industries that are more likely to recover once major restrictions are lifted.

According to the United Nation’s World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO), international tourist arrivals will be down by 20% to 30% in 2020 when compared with 2019 figures – equivalent to a loss of US$300billion to US$450billion in international tourism receipts (exports); almost one third of the US$1.5trillion generated globally.

The direct contribution of the travel and tourism industry accounts today for 3.3% of the total global GDP and 4.4% in OECD countries (average), with picks of 14%, 13% and 18% for countries like Spain, Italy and Greece respectively.

Some countries were predicted to face more substantial blows than others due to their high reliance on the sector, especially when considering an interesting comparison.

The World Travel and Tourism Council has warned that COVID-19 pandemic could cut 50 million jobs worldwide in the travel and tourism industry. In Ghana, the recent outbreak has led to closure of many sectors, rendering many also jobless – which might affect the economy of Ghana. This is because government will be compelled to use the few resources available to support the needy in the country.

The Northern Regional Marketing officer for the Ghana Tourism Authority (GTA), Kennis Ateere, in an interview expressed worry about the laying-off of many staff in the industry due to the outbreak of COIVID-19

He noted that the Authority is currently collaborating with leadership of the various associations to address the current issues. According to some workers, their source of livelihood has been taken away from them; hence the call on government to expedite action to liaise with leadership of the association in helping address the issues so as to safeguard their welfare within the sector.

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