East Africa’s tourism sector loses $4.8B, 2M jobs due to COVID

East Africa’s tourism sector loses $4.8B, 2M jobs due to COVID

Tourism jobs in region dropped from about 4.1 million before pandemic to 2.2 million, says report

By James Tasamba

KIGALI, Rwanda (AA) – East Africa’s tourism sector lost more than $4.8 billion and 2 million jobs in 2020 amid COVID-19 curbs, according to a report released Wednesday.

The tourism sector contributes about 10% to East Africa Community (EAC) partner states’ gross domestic product (GDP) and accounts for 17% of export earnings and about 7% in terms of jobs, according to official data

The report by the East African Business Council (EABC), a bloc of private businesspeople in the region, showed that 4.2 million foreign tourists were not able to travel to their preferred East Africa Community destinations.

Ridded with uncertainty, the impact was felt across affiliated industries and other sectors of the economy.

“It is estimated that tourism jobs in the region dropped from about 4.1 million to 2.2 million,” said EABC chief executive officer John Bosco Kalisa.

“Visitors to national parks declined significantly by about 65% and, therefore, negatively affected wildlife conservation efforts in the region.”

The majority of the tourists originate from Europe, the US and parts of Asia.

The study also revealed that bed occupancy at hotels significantly dropped during the pandemic, with hotels in the region registering average occupancy rates of below 30

According to the report, 26.5% of businesses lost their entire projected revenues during the pandemic period and 44% lost 75%, while 17.6% lost 50% of their projected revenues.

The private sector has called on governments to create affordable loan schemes to support the tourism sector.

Roughly $57.8 million is needed to implement the sector’s recovery plan.

The EAC bloc last month approved a regional COVID-19 recovery plan for tourism that seeks to revive the sector by ensuring that the six member states -- Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, Tanzania, Burundi and South Sudan -- adopt a collective and coordinated approach towards tourism recovery.

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