The World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) proposed a plan to rescue the sector, badly hit by the health emergency that produced the coronavirus covid-19.
Due to the weight of the tourism business at the global and local level, the WTTC suggested that the governments of the affected countries, including Costa Rica, launch a three-point plan that prevents the complete collapse of the activity.
In an open letter to ALL governments in the world, signed by Gloria Guevara, President & CEO, the WTTC said now is the time to take action, proposing three vital measures, which in addition to recovery funds, will protect the survival of the millions of people who rely on Travel & Tourism for their livelihoods and welfare in the turbulent weeks and months ahead:
- Financial help must be granted to protect the incomes of the millions of workers in the sector facing severe economic difficulties.
- Governments must extend vital, unlimited interest-free loans to global Travel & Tourism companies as well as the millions of small and medium sized businesses as a stimulus to prevent them from collapse.
- All government taxes, dues and financial demands on the travel sector need to be waived with immediate effect at least for the next 12 months.
Immediate action is required‼️
— WTTC (@WTTC) April 1, 2020
Costa Rica President Carlos Alvarado has not yet announced a package of measures to re-incentivize the tourism sector once the COVID-19 respiratory disease pandemic is overcome.
The Instituto Costarricense de Turismo (ICT) – Costa Rican Tourism Board – has only said that it will continue promoting the country as a destination, especially in Europe and the United States.
However, the WTTC considers that the implementation of actions to protect tourism companies is urgent to prevent economic collapse due to the significant weight tourism has on the gross domestic product of nations that depend on the activity.
In the case of Costa Rica, in 2016 the tourism industry accounted for 6.3% of Gross Domestic Product (GDP), according to data from the Central Bank of Costa Rica. Last year alone, the tourism business brought almost US$4 billion in foreign currency to the country.
“The WTTC estimates that 75 million jobs globally are at risk from the health emergency. Due to the effect of the coronavirus pandemic, an average of one million jobs are lost daily in the tourism sector,” it warns.
Council data indicates that more than 100 countries in the world have implemented specific measures to protect their travel industry.
These include, in addition to interest-free loans, the elimination of certain taxes, as well as assistance for workers in the sector.
In Costa Rica, according to ICT, the tourism industry generated 8.8% of the country’s jobs, more than 200,000, during 2019.
The restaurant sector, which depends in part on tourism activity, had laid off at the end of March 109,000 people for the closure of bars and restaurants.
19.4 months to recovery
WTTC figures show Travel & Tourism represents 10.3% of global GDP and supports 330 million jobs on the planet, or 1 in 10 jobs, making it a critical driver of economic growth and the backbone of many economies around the world.
“With the right measures in place to support the sector, we can, and will be a vehicle to drive recovery when we enter this next phase.
“We are calling upon the world to take urgent and immediate action to prevent this global health crisis from becoming a worldwide economic catastrophe. Doing nothing is not an option.
“We implore every government to take drastic and decisive action now to preserve and protect the contribution of the travel & tourism sector, on which more than 320 million people and their families depend on for their livelihoods.
“Travel & Tourism companies are playing their part to protect their employees,” said the WTTC in a letter send to Governments last month.
The latest research from WTTC estimates that up to 75 million jobs are at immediate risk. The research reveals a potential Travel & Tourism GDP loss of up to US$2.1 trillion in 2020. WTTC also estimates that a staggering one million jobs are being lost every day in the Travel & Tourism sector due to the sweeping effect of the coronavirus pandemic.
A WTTC analysis of previous major viral epidemics shows that the average recovery time for visitor numbers to a destination was 19.4 months, but with the “right response and management” could recover in as little as 10 months.