Players in the Tourism Industry in Ghana are seeking Government support to mitigate the impact of the Covid-19 on their businesses.
They said tourism, like any other sector of the global economy, is also feeling the brunt of the novel coronavirus pandemic, adding that the situation has serious impact on their businesses and job security.
Consequently, they have asked President Akuffo-Addo to come out with a stimulus package for the Tourism Industry in order help them to save their ailing businesses and their employees’ jobs.
Global impact of Covid-19 on the Tourism Industry
An analysis conducted by the World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO), an agency of the United Nations, estimates that international tourist arrivals could decline by 20% to 30% in 2020.
This, according to the analysis, would translate into a loss of 300 to 450 US$ billion in international tourism receipts (exports). This represents almost one third of the US$ 1.5 trillion generated globally in the worst-case scenario due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Again, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) on its analysis of the revenue impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the global air transport industry also estimates that industry passenger revenues could drop to $252 billion or 44% below 2019’s figure.
‘This is in a scenario in which severe travel restrictions last for up to three months, followed by a gradual economic recovery later this year’, IATA said to explain its projections.
IATA’s previous analysis of up to a $113 billion revenue loss was made on 5 March 2020, before countries around the world announced travel restrictions that largely eliminated the international air travel market.
Tourism Industry players’ position
While sharing their thoughts on the impact of the pandemic on their businesses on TV3’S ‘Business Focus’ progarmme via Zoom, last Monday, April 27, 2020, players in the industry said the pandemic has completely shattered their activities and plans for the year.
They further stated that the situation has had a knockdown effect on several people and businesses within the tourism value chain.
Already, they said, several of their businesses have folded up. Additionally, if the virus is not brought under control as soon as possible more will also collapse, leading to extra layoffs.
The Chief Executive Officer of Africa Tourism Partners-South African, Mr Kwakye Donkor, said the magnitude of the damage to the broader tourism sector by the outbreak of the pandemic is even bigger than what is being projected.
“If you look at the entire value chain of tourism, every single sector has been affected. So, you can multiply it by three or by five if you are looking at the actual figures. No one at the moment would be able to give you the actual figures or impact because its got multiple effect”, he noted.
He explains that every business in the sector is closed down and that “a whole lot of jobs have been lost” in the process.
“Tourism is very central for every single economy in the world, it is central simply because you eat, you cry, you sleep, you travel, there is also the logistics aspect of it, so the impact generally is bigger than the figures IATA is churning out but possibly, the UNWTO figures will be the closest”, he remarked.
Tourism is pro-poor industry
A Senior Communications Expert at the UNWTO, Mr William K. Bentum, says tourism is a “pro-poor” industry. The industry has a lot of SMEs under its belt and considering how many of them are losing their business, there is the an urgent need to have a coordinated effort globally to lessen the impact on the sector.
“In terms of its impact, we have to revise our global projections and take measures to save the tourism industry. That is why we are saying that if government include us in its recovery measures, it is going to help us save a lot of jobs.
For her part, the Chief Executive Officer of Landtours, Ms Mona Boyd, says the impact of the pandemic on the sector is widespread due to the numbers involved in the tourism value chain.
She said there have been several revenues losses, adding that should the virus prolong the Tourism Industry will struggle to recover in 2021.
“The effect is going to be widespread, it not only going to affect the hospitality industry but its also going to affect other industries as well, across the board. People will lose their jobs and we do need some help to keep being in business”, she said.
“What we need to do is to start planning for 2021 because this year is already gone”, Ms Boyd added.
Gov’t stimulus packages for SMEs
The Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture, has assured players in the industry that they will benefit from the stimulus package set aside by government to support SMEs.
The Minister for Tourism, Arts and Culture, Barbara Oteng-Gyasi, in an interaction with some stakeholders in the industry, said a meeting has been arranged with the National Board for Small Scale Industries to outline the modalities on how one can apply for the funds
But even before government begin disbursing the money, an Economist, Dr Lord Mensah, in an earlier discussion on the same ‘Business Focus’ show, has urged government not extend the stimulus package to the hospitality and tourism sectors of the economy.
According to him even though those sectors are also important to the growth of the economy, injecting funds into them may not yield immediate results.
“There are some sectors that even if you give them the subsidies, they won’t get patronage as we speak now.
“Now, we are distressed as a country and areas like hospitality, hotels are not key sectors to touch now when it comes to providing stimulus package”, he stressed.
By Salifu B.B. Moro