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UN labour agency calls 'crisis meetings' on tourism, aviation industries

UN labour agency calls 'crisis meetings' on tourism, aviation industries

The United Nations International Labour Organization (ILO) will convene a series of crisis meetings to assess the economic turbulence buffeting the tourism and aviation industries in the aftermath of the 11 September attacks in the United States.

"The attacks against New York and Washington on 11 September 2001 and their aftermath have hit the tourism and aviation sectors especially hard at a time when they were already weakened by the ongoing global economic downturn," said ILO Director-General Juan Somavia. "We have already seen hundreds of thousands of layoffs, and expect the long term crisis in jobs and enterprises to be even more severe."

The first meeting, slated for 25 and 26 October, will bring together representatives from government, employers and workers to assess the tourism crisis and address means for easing its impact.

With security concerns at high pitch, the ILO has already registered a 5 to 20 per cent decline in the sector compared to last year, the agency said. Based on previous experiences such as the 1990-91 Persian Gulf War, ILO officials said recovery could be slow. Particularly hard hit will be tourism in the Caribbean, where it is a main source of income.

Among the problems faced by the tourism industry are worker lay-offs, the ILO said. Seasonal, women and "on-call" employees are among vulnerable groups particularly affected. Moreover, as the industry is made up mainly of small- and medium-sized enterprises - employing half of the sector's labour force - the hardship faced by many tourism workers will put pressure on governments to provide social support and fight income loss.

In a separate meeting on 29 and 30 October, independent and industry experts, as well as representatives of airlines and unions, will analyze the aviation industry and address possible strategies for a response to the crisis, which is expected to cost some 200,000 jobs.

Participants will also discuss the new agenda for a tripartite meeting slated for 21 to 25 January 2002 in Geneva on the social and safety consequences of the crisis on civil aviation subsequent to the 11 September events.