Havana, Cuba. – Latin America has been one of the regions affected the most by the COVID-19 pandemic which continues to claim lives all over the world. The virus not only has left a negative balance regarding contagion and loss of human lives, but also an economic disaster that will take time to overcome, according to research.
One of the examples that illustrates this reality is the case of Cuba, a country whose tourist industry practically collapsed. A joint report published by the Americas Society and the Council of the Americas shows that the island welcomed barely 1 090 000 tourists in 2020, a decrease of 74.6% compared to the previous year.
The country accounts for the fourth worse percentage drop in the entire continent, after Argentina, Guatemala and Chile.
Both organizations sustain that the global collapse of tourism “affected Latin America in harsher terms.” Decrease of tourism in the continent stands in sharp contrast with the results of the five years prior to the pandemic, where the tourism sector had increased by 10% in the entire region.
The World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) estimates that the pandemic cost the tourism industry in Latin American US$230 billion in losses in 2020, as well as 12.4 million jobs in sectors related to tourism, such as agriculture, food products and beverages, construction, transportation and creative arts.
“Tourism workers often are poorly skilled, they make up the informal economy and are seasonal: workers who, in general, could not perform their work from home,” states the Americas Society and Council of the Americas report.
A survey of industry experts done by the United Nations’ World Tourism Organization found that 50% of those surveyed believed that tourism would start to recuperate in 2021, while the other 50% expressed that this would not happen until 2022.
To that regard, the International Monetary Fund feels that assistance in the area of health will influence the sector’s recovery.
“Now it is more probable that tourists will take into consideration the quality of the health system in a country they wish to visit. The demand for coronavirus testing is putting to a test the capacity of local health systems. Some countries have now established testing clinics and some hotels and airports in the region are offering testing on site as well,” according to the organization.
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