COVID-19 leaves tourism workers in dire straits

The workers in the tourism sector have been left in the lurch as COVID-19 meted out a sucker punch to the sector, wiping off most of the tourism in the world.

Even as the jobs in the sector have been recuperating in the last three quarters, unemployment continues to be a major problem as Australia lost a net of 35,500 tourism jobs on an annual basis.

According to the latest data published by the Australian Bureau of Statistics on Friday, the total number of people employed in the tourism sector at the end of March 2021 stood at 662,700, down 5.1% from 698,200 a year ago.

However, the dip in the tourism jobs is more worrying as the job losses seem to be more of a permanent nature than temporary – unlike other sectors. The full-time jobs have come down by 6.5% -- 190 basis points more than 3.6% reduction in the temporary job holders.

In most of the other sectors – like automobile – when stress starts creeping in, the axe falls first on the people with temporary jobs.

At the peak of the pandemic, between April and June 2020, the Australian tourism sector had lost 91,700 jobs in a span of just three months – bringing down the employment in the sector by almost 13.1%. However, since then the sector has been trying to crawl back to normalcy.

With 23.9% reduction in jobs, travel jobs – from air, water and other transport modes – were the worst hit in the tourism sector, followed by education and training-related travel jobs (down by 15.5%) accommodation (a dip of 15.2%).

It is interesting to note that people preferred self-drive vehicles for their tourism purposes, as road transport and transport equipment rentals were the best performing sub sector – growing by 7.9%. Other than this, only two other sub sectors were in black -- sports and recreation services tourism (up 5.6%), as well as travel agency and information centre services (up 1.4%).

With various countries imposing travel restriction to prevent the spread of the pandemic, and most of the people avoiding non-essential travel to stave off the monster virus, COVID-19 has undoubtedly torpedoed the tourism industry and it will take a long time before its bruises are healed completely.

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