Rapidly changing govt policies and shifts in travel behaviour during the pandemic leads to a restructuring of the hospitality sector, says Jasmine Nahhas di Florio of EFE
Dubai, United Arab Emirates: The travel industry, which is one of the leading employers in the MENA region, is witnessing a major re-skilling drive in wake of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic across the globe, says a top executive of Education For Employment.
“Rapidly changing government policies to curb the impact of different variants of the coronavirus and shifts in people’s travel behavior during the pandemic have led to the restructuring of the hospitality sector,” said Jasmine Nahhas di Florio, Senior Vice President Strategy, Partnerships & Communications at Education For Employment.
The World Health Organization is monitoring a new coronavirus variant called “mu.” It has mutations that have the potential to evade immunity provided by a previous Covid-19 infection or vaccination, the WHO announced on Sept. 1. “A temporary demand drops in the travel segment, which is recovering fast, has provided an opportunity for re-skilling and up-skilling in order to meet the new sets of requirements in the industry,” said Jasmine. In the wake of Covid-19 pandemic, the hospitality industry is fast adopting contactless technologies and processes, she added.
Some of the wealthy MENA countries like UAE, Bahrain, Qatar have achieved high vaccination rates and are slowly allowing travellers from less affected countries, she said. In the latest move the UAE has opened tourist visas for all nationalities and countries.
She also highlighted that many countries in the region are looking to allow quarantine-free travel for those who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19. “Such moves are bound to create more employment in the travel sector,” Jasmine said.
Prior to the Covid-19 outbreak, Europe and the Middle East accounted for more than a third of global air passenger traffic and almost half of the total earnings from inbound international tourism. According to the report in 2018 by United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), around 87 million tourists visited MENA countries and generated US$72 billion from the tourism sector.
The report further reveals that Saudi Arabia is the largest MENA destination (21 million visitors) due to religious travelers visiting Mecca and Medina. Dubai continues to enjoy the highest tourism growth in 2018 where USE21 billion were spent by international tourists in Dubai. Travel and tourism accounted for 10% of global GDP and 320 million jobs worldwide. However, mid-2020 job loss estimates for the European and Middle Eastern travel and tourism industries stood at 14–30 million and 3–5 million respectively.
“As the worst effects of the COVID-19 pandemic ebb, things have started looking up. Most indicators point to travel coming back—with a vengeance—as people look to reconnect, explore new destinations, or revisit reliable favorites. Many just want to get away from the confines of their homes,” said Jasmine of EFE, a non-profit organization working to connect MENA’s youth to the world of work.
A recent survey of 4,700 respondents from 11 countries around the world, conducted by the International Air Transport Association (IATA), revealed that 57 per cent of them expected to be travelling within two months of the pandemic’s containment, and 72 per cent will do so as soon as they can meet friends and family.
“The travel industry needs to provide customers with tailor-made services that could ensure their health and value for money. Digital literacy and emotional intelligence skills will help travel industry workers stay relevant in this more dynamic and digitized market,” said Jasmine Nahhas di Florio. “We need to ensure that youth and women in need of jobs have access to these skills and opportunities to interview with employers. EFE provides this access for youth and women seeking to enter the F&B and hospitality business, as well as other sectors.”
About Education For Employment (EFE):
EFE is the leading youth employment nonprofit in MENA. By connecting youth to the world of work, EFE provides the hope and dignity that can transform their future and the world around them. Since 2006, EFE has connected more than 121,000 unemployed youth to the world of work while providing 3,100 businesses with the entry-level talent they need to grow. Over 58% of EFE’s graduates are young women, reflecting our special focus on supporting women’s entry into the workforce. EFE achieves this through locally-run EFE Affiliates in Palestine, Egypt, Jordan, Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Saudi Arabia and Yemen, and support hubs in the USA, Europe, and the UAE. To explore more about how we pursue our goals.
Jasmine Nahhas di Florio is Senior Vice President Strategy, Partnerships & Communications at Education For Employment, a nonprofit working to connect MENA’s youth to the world of work.