India stares at huge job losses amidst pandemic outbreak

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The country’s travel and tourism sector, more dependent than others on the free and confident movement of people, is staring at millions of disappearing jobs and a grey future.

As a result of the nationwide lockdown, with no travel possible, the tourism industry is being “badly hit”, a government press release said on April 10.

Reports and experts suggest possible job loss across tourism and allied industries due to standstill caused by the Covid-19 outbreak across the world. “The Indian tourism and hospitality industry is staring at a potential job loss of around 38 million, which is 70% of the total workforce,” due to Covid-19, a report by KPMG, a financial services and business advisory firm, said on April 1.

As many as nine million jobs – six times the population of Goa – in the travel and tourism sector are at risk in India, according to the World Travel and Tourism Council, a global forum to raise awareness about the industry.

If this trend continues as the Covid-19 crisis progresses, it will be a setback for national employment. The sector accounts for 12.75% of employment – 5.56% of it direct and 7.19% indirect. Over 87 million people were employed in the tourism industry in 2018-’19, according to the ministry of tourism’s annual report for 2019-’20.

Officials of travel and tourism companies tell a uniformly dismal story of cancelled bookings from February 2020 leading to “complete paralysis” by mid-to-late March 2020. “The industry has come to a standstill as the crisis has hit its nerve centres – the airlines and railways,” Ajay Bali, managing director of the Mumbai-based BCD Travel India, the Indian arm of the Dutch corporate travel management firm said.. “And in the next 45 days, we do not even know if there will be recovery.”

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