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Average tourism wages fall by nearly 18% due to Covid

The Saigon Times

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HCMC – Due to the heavy impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on enterprises and workers in the tourism industry, the average tourism wages in Vietnam have fallen by nearly 18%, with the decline for women employees even higher at almost 23%.

According to the latest report of the International Labor Organization (ILO), the dire consequences of the pandemic on the Vietnamese tourism sector were reflected primarily in decreasing wages.

Tourism has been one of the worst-hit industries, and job losses in tourism-related sectors were greater than in non-tourism sectors.

While the number of informal employees in tourism increased by 3% last year, formal employees decreased by 11%.

Women workers appear to have been particularly hit with an increased concentration employed in the food and beverage industry, the lowest-paid job in the sector.

Tran Van Xuan, director of Travelive Vietnam, said his company had to suspend operations for 12 months due to the closure of borders and social distancing measures. 

During that time, the employees had zero income, but the company had to pay social insurance for them.

Even as travel restrictions are relaxed and travel services have resumed, the company is still facing many challenges. Xuan said some clients have canceled their tours over Covid fears. 

Most recently, a company booked a Travelive tour to Vinh Phuc Province for a group of 150 guests. The tour is scheduled to start on November 27.

However, this company has postponed the tour after one of their employees was infected with Covid. 

Sara Elder, ILO Senior Economist and lead author of the study, said that with tourism revenues at a standstill and tourism-related jobs among those most affected by the crisis, the pandemic has invited a re-think of medium- and long-term tourism strategies. 

The crisis thus brings with it the opportunity to align the tourism sector toward a more resilient, human-centered future.

“Recovery will take time and affected workers and enterprises in the tourism sector will continue to require assistance to replace lost incomes and preserve assets,” she added.

Elder suggested that the Government continue to implement support measures, while striving to vaccinate all residents and migrant workers.

Data from Vietnam, Brunei, Mongolia, the Philippines and Thailand showed that nearly one-third of total job losses were linked to the tourism sector, with an estimated 1.6 million tourism-related jobs lost in these five countries alone.

With many additional jobs indirectly linked to the sector, the actual estimate of tourism-related jobs suffering the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic in Asia and the Pacific is likely to be much higher.

“The impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on the tourism sector in Asia and the Pacific has been nothing short of catastrophic,” said Chihoko Asada-Miyakawa, ILO Assistant Director General and Regional Director for Asia and the Pacific.

Even with countries in the region focusing heavily on vaccinations and designing strategies to slowly re-open borders, jobs and working hours in the tourism-related sector are likely to remain below their pre-crisis numbers in the Asia–Pacific countries into next year.

Where decreases in tourism-related jobs were seemingly small, a deterioration in the quality of available jobs was still evident.

Working-hour losses in tourism are well above those estimated for other sectors, with the magnitude of reduced hours from two to seven times greater than for non-tourism-related workers. In 2020, working hour losses in the sector ranged from 4% in Vietnam to 38% in the Philippines.

In addition, as formal jobs in tourism declined, workers have increasingly moved into the informal sector.

Even as borders reopen, international tourist arrivals are predicted to be slow in the near term. ILO suggested that governments in tourism-rich countries seek broader economic diversification with the ultimate aim to create new employment opportunities in non-tourism sectors.

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