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Tourism workers in job crisis after terror attacks on US, UN labour agency reports

Tourism workers in job crisis after terror attacks on US, UN labour agency reports

Nearly 9 million workers in the global hotel and tourism economy, already suffering from an economic downturn, may lose their jobs in the wake of last month's terror attacks on the United States, according to a new report by the International Labour Organization (ILO).

According to the report, an estimated 10 per cent reduction in tourism would mean 8.8 million jobs lost, of which 1.1 million would be in the United States and 1.2 million in the European Union. The survey suggests US job losses could reach up to 3.8 million, depending on how travellers reacted in the coming months.

The report noted that some 207 million people worldwide work in the travel and tourism sector. Before 11 September, that sector was already facing a slowdown in demand due to weak global world economic trends. Further, the impact has worsened since travel and tourism is the most vulnerable of all sectors to the threat of insecurity.

Jobs affected immediately include marginal, part-time or shift labour in hotels, ground tour and excursion companies, the catering trade, travel agents, tour and cruise ship operators and service industries. "Many companies in the sector are highly dependent on strong and regular cash flows to meet their fixed commitments," the report states. "Some are now faced with a struggle for their very survival."

While the short-term impact will be severe, the ILO report projects that the long-term impact will depend on further events and whether the industry can recover quickly from the unprecedented fallout and worldwide impact of 11 September.

The report will form the basis for discussions at an ILO crisis meeting on the hotel and tourism sectors to be held in Geneva on 25 and 26 October. Government, employer and worker representatives will meet to assess the tourism crisis and address means for easing its impact.