ADB study shows dampened employment prospects for Sri Lanka due to COVID-19

11 June 2020 12:00 am - 0     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

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  • Tourism, hospitality and apparel show largest decline in job postings
  • Information and communication technology industry might be first to recover

By Shabiya Ali Ahlam
Businesses across all sectors in the country have massively cut down or completely frozen job postings in the recent months and despite the economy being reopened for nearly four weeks, no real recovery is seen in industries creating job opportunities.


According to a study carried out by the Asian Development Bank (ADB), a number of industries showed no signs of recovery, with negligible job postings, following a sharp decline in the months of March and April. 
Sri Lanka’s tourism and hospitality industries were among the sectors a negative impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on employment prospects was evident, with no new job postings.  


However, the assessment showed that the information and communication technology industry could be the first among several sectors to show signs of recovery.


As confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the country began to rise from mid-March, new job postings plunged around that time frame, the study noted. 


It showed that compared to December 2019, the number of new job postings was 3 percent higher in the second week of March but 51 percent lower in the following week and 70 percent lower in April. 


Compared to the same months in the previous year, job postings in 2020 were 10 percent more in February but 27 percent lower in March and 70 percent lower in April. 


“All industries have been cutting job postings. Compared to the same month in 2019, the number of job postings in April 2020 declined by 96 percent in accommodation and food service activities, implying serious consequences of social distancing and containment measures in the tourism and hospitality industry,” the 
study noted.


It showed that a large reduction of about 74 percent also occurred in professional, scientific and technical activities. Wholesale and retail trade saw a 73 percent dip, whereas the ICT witnessed a 72 percent contraction.

While the country has been shut to international tourists since recording its first cases, around 30 resorts have stayed open, with guests choosing to self-isolate here rather than return home. Officials previously suggested the popular honeymoon destination would reopen towards the end of the year but this has been brought forward.


To ensure safety, the government says it is issuing a “Safe Tourism License” to accredit tourist facilities that abide by government legislation and specific safety requirements like having a certified medic on call and holding an “adequate stock” of personal protection equipment.


According to the proposal, incoming travellers will need to have a confirmed booking with a tourist facility that has a license.


However, the finer details are subject to change.


Travellers will also need to take steps. They’ll be required to present a medical certificate confirming proof of a negative COVID-19 test taken at least 14 days before they arrive.


In a statement issued last month, Ali Waheed, the country’s minister for tourism, described the impact of the coronavirus pandemic as “more devastating than the 2004 tsunami and the 2008 global financial crisis”.“For the first time in 47 years of tourism in the Maldives, we have experienced zero tourist arrival since this March,” before adding, “we cannot keep our borders closed for long”.


The Maldives welcomed more than 1.7 million visitors in 2019 and officials had been expecting numbers to rise to two million this year.

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