No 102 Corona and jobs in tourism (09/2020)

Issue Number
Arbeitsplätze und Corona
© Mos Sukjaroenkraisri - Unsplash

If Corona were not a cross-border, invisibly spreading health hazard, but rather an extremely prolonged period of rain, long-distance tourism would boom and garden centers would suffer. The opposite is the case - but the thought process makes it clear that the impact on industries and economic sectors is rather random.

If we focus on people and not on economic sectors, it becomes clear that the virus does not affect all working people equally and that it is certainly no coincidence which people fall ill most frequently: there is a pyramid of people affected - a few at the very top who were able to switch to the home office with good pay and security and many who are often poorly paid and hardly have the opportunity to keep their distance from customers, colleagues and patients.

Same is true in tourism: the lower down the hierarchy of work, the more dangerous and life-threatening it becomes. The work chain in tourism is long and has everything to offer: From highly paid managers and company founders, to the millions of people who often clean hotel rooms invisibly as employees of contract agencies, to the countless people in the informal sector who try every day - whether as rickshaw drivers or beach vendors - to use their chance to earn a few cents or dollars in tourism.

This Tourism Watch is dedicated to all those who work in tourism - and who are currently asking themselves existentially how proceed. We look at the often still stuck Filipino seafarers and the situation of other international migrant workers who lose their jobs and are too often stranded in foreign countries without access to social systems. We learn about the hunger and desperation of millions of Indians in the informal sector and get to know women from Colombia, Thailand and South Africa who want to continue in tourism despite all adversities. And we take a look at safari tourism in Africa: Here, the preservation of jobs and continued payment of wages is not only existential for the affected people and their families, but also the basis for the protection of wildlife and thus, in the long term, for the business model - so that safari tourism can still exist after Corona.

Corona and jobs in tourism

Filipino Seafarers claim working rights

Faria Anzum - Unsplash
© Faria Anzum - Unsplash

Seafarers worldwide are stuck on their ships due to COVID-19 – among them many Filipinos. They are facing inadequate hygiene measures, financial difficulties and unemployment.

Migrant Workers in Tourism in Times of Covid-19

Tourismusmitarbeiterin in Eingangshalle
© Nagesh Badu - Unsplash

In an interview with Tourism Watch, Christiane Kuptsch, migartion expert at ILO, explains why migrants working in tourism are particularly affected by the COVID-19-related drop in demand and how they could be supported.

From Empty Hand to Mouth

Straßenreinigung durch indische Männer
© Sujeeth Potla - Unsplash

In India, the informal sector has been hard hit by the COVID-19 pandemic. A study now provides insights into the extent of the precariousness and coping mechanisms.

Women first

Demo - We the people
© Alice Donovan Rouse - Unsplash

Women are predominant in tourism employment. But COVID-19 has revealed structural inequalities that are hitting female employees in the travel industry particularly hard.

Pandemic Poaching

Safaripark Guards

Animal welfare activists, development workers and NGOs report that poaching is increasing again in times of pandemic lockdown. This could also be due to a lack of income from tourism.

Short information, literature and material

Policy Paper: Migrant Workers in the Tourism Industry

The Center for Global Development released a paper about the impact of the Covid-19 Pandemic on migrant workers in the tourism industry. Millions of migrant workers don´t have a permanent residence status nor a passport of the country they are working in - alone in Europe and the US this …

Video documentation on community resilience and tourism

The Transforming Tourism Initiative conducted an online-seminar on “Community Resilience and Change in Tourism”. With inspiring contributions, alternative tourism models for more resilience against disasters and catastrophes, especially in times of Covid-19 were discussed. In addition …


Online-Seminar: Precariousness of Work in Tourism


In this international online-seminar representatives from civil society and academia discuss the precarious nature of tourism jobs and how COVID-19 even deteriorates the situation. They will also show how- on the long run - the quality of work in tourism can increase.

International Symposium "Beyond the crisis"


The Roundtable Human Rights in Tourism invites on 28 October to the symposium “Beyond the crisis: How to create social benefit and resilience in tourism”. Experts and practitioners from tourism sector will discussion online, how to strengthen human rights in tourism.


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