6th May 2020
The travel industry is one of the most affected with the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic. The World Tourism Council has warned “the COVID-19 could cut 100 million jobs worldwide in the travel and tourism industry” alone. The effects of this are dependent not only on how long this crisis will continue, but also on medical advancements and economic recovery across the globe.
We are a country that is heavily dependent on tourism and over 70% of our GDP contribution is directly or indirectly from this sector. A significant portion of the collections of MIRA is derived directly from tourism taxation, making the Government the largest stakeholder and beneficiary.
Unfortunately, the current relief package for the industry was not formulated in consultation with MATI.
The stakeholders of all segments of the industry, from the onset of this pandemic in January, have tried to convey the severity of the impact that we predicted. As this progressed, it was clear that we needed to urgently address the challenges that we would face as an industry and as a nation. Our goals have been to take the steps to avoid bankruptcy, retain employees, manage cashflows and plan for the return of demand and subsequent return to normal trading. We have repeatedly urged the government to take definitive actions in a timely manner. These requests have been shared in forums, in meetings as well as in writing, but there has been no substantial action forthcoming.
Another major concern is the timelines and the estimated impact on the industry has not been forecasted realistically. We will be ready to open as a country, only when we have the confidence of our medical professionals that there is no further risk to the population and even when that day comes, we are dependent on airlines, source markets and their Governments’ travel advisories.
We also note that due to delays in announcing the measures and the conditions imposed for qualification of relief, most of the industry’s businesses are no longer eligible for relief.
We call on the government to resume meaningful dialogue with all segments and stakeholders of the travel and tourism industry in order to prevent bankruptcies, retain staff, facilitate cash flows so that we can ensure appropriate steps are taken to facilitate a recovery.