Small islands dependent on visitors for their income need urgent help, the UN World Tourism Organisation has warned.
The UNWTO warned the pandemic accounted for more than 30% of total exports in the majority of 38 small island economies it examined. “In some countries, this proportion is as high as 90%, making them especially vulnerable to falling tourist numbers,” it said.
In 2019, small islands accounted for 44 million international tourist arrivals and the sector earned $55 billion in export revenues. However, international tourist arrivals were down 47% in the first four months of this year.
UNWTO Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashvili said: “The Covid-19 pandemic has caused an unprecedented disruption. International tourist arrivals have fallen dramatically, and destinations that rely on the sector for jobs and economic wellbeing such as small islands will be hit the hardest.
"As such, measures to mitigate the impact of Covid-19 on these states and to stimulate the recovery of tourism are now more critical than ever.”
The UNWTO Briefing Note also highlights the disproportionate effect on women. According to the International Labour Organization, more than half of all workers in the accommodation and food services sector in most small developing islands reporting data are women.
In many, this proportion is even higher, such as in Trinidad and Tobago and Haiti, where proportions reached more than 70%.