Poor job prospects for tourism workers in Malaysia and globally

It is estimated that over 8,000 hotel industry workers in Malaysia have been laid off amid the pandemic. — CHAN TAK KONG/The Star

The slow recovery of tourism will see the sector’s year-on-year contribution to global GDP rise by less than one third in 2021, according to a new study by the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC).

The research pointed out that at the current rate of recovery, tourism’s contribution to the global economy could see a similar moderate year-on-year rise of 31.7% in 2022.

Last year, WTTC revealed the loss of a staggering 62 million travel and tourism jobs worldwide and with the current pace of recovery, jobs are set to rise by only 0.7% this year.

WTTC president Julia Simpson said the industry’s sluggish recovery is due to several factors.

“Our research clearly shows that while the global travel and tourism sector is beginning to recover from the ravages of Covid-19, there are still too many restrictions in place, an uneven vaccine rollout, resulting in a slower than expected recovery of just under a third this year,” she said in a statement.

Simpson added that job recovery in the sector isn’t looking any better too.

“While next year is looking more positive in terms of the global economy and jobs, the current rate of recovery is simply not fast enough and is in the most part driven by domestic travel, which will not achieve a full economic recovery,” she said.

To rectify the current situation, Simpson proposed that governments take a stronger stand to support tourism recovery.

“If governments can start looking internationally and support travel and tourism with simplified rules to enable the safe return of travel, there is the opportunity to save jobs and boost economic wealth,” she said.

Other proposed measures outlined in WTTC’s report include allowing fully vaccinated travellers to move freely, recognition for vaccines authorised by the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the implementation of digital solutions that enable travellers to easily prove their health status.

Poor job outlook in the tourism field was also addressed by Deputy Tourism, Arts and Culture Minister Datuk Seri Santhara Kumar.

“To revive tourism activities and employment in the sector, various assistance has been provided directly through the National People’s Well-Being and Economic Recovery Package (Pemulih) and Strategic Programme to Empower the People and Economy (Pemerkasa).

“Tourism industry players were also given one-off cash assistance, the extension of discount on electricity bills until Dec 31, tourism and services tax exemption, deferment of tax instalment payments and wage subsidy schemes,” he said during the question-and-answer session at the Dewan Negara sitting recently.

A total of 55 hotels in Malaysia have closed down while 86 hotels are temporarily closed since March last year (and have not reopened) due to the pandemic and various travel restrictions.

It is estimated that over 8,000 hotel industry workers were laid off during the period.

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