The Edition


Over 45,000 resort employees directly affected by pandemic: UNDP

Shahudha Mohamed
05 June 2020, MVT 17:50
Resort workers holding signboards at a protest. According to UNDP, over 45,000 resort employees in Maldives were directly affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. PHOTO: HUSSAIN WAHEED/ MIHAARU
Shahudha Mohamed
05 June 2020, MVT 17:50

The state revealed on Thursday that more than 45,000 employees in tourist resorts alone are directly affected due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, including approximately 22,000 local employees in the payroll of resorts.

The aforementioned statistics were revealed in the first phase of a rapid livelihood assessment conducted by the Ministry of Economic Development in collaboration with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) to understand the impact of the COVID-19 crisis in Maldives.

According to the assessment, which scrutinised the tourism sector as the hardest-hit industry, job security beyond July is uncertain for a majority of resort workers, since operations are not expected to normalise for a longer period than initially anticipated.

The assessment also noted that job loss and redundancy were mostly observed amongst those on probation contracts and younger age groups.

Moreover, a large portion of resort workers who retained their jobs lost their incomes completely, as most of them are put on no-pay leave from April to June 2020.

The assessment notes that the average income loss of employees who lost jobs and are on no-pay leave adds up to an amount ranging from USD 600 to USD 1000 per month for the aforementioned period, compared to the same duration of 2019.

Even those employees on paid leave are likely to experience an income loss of 60 percent during this time due to pay cuts, as per the assessment.

Furthermore, the loss of work amongst the informal sector indicates a high prevalence due to the closure of the tourism industry, as the services of freelancers, seasonal workers and local vendors providing goods and services to resorts have stopped temporarily.

"While a vast number of workers have been affected by the COVID-19 crisis, the assessment indicates that job losses were greatest amongst younger people and employees under third party contract services of resorts", said the UNDP Resident Representative of Maldives Akiko Fuji.

Noting that the COVID-19 pandemic and the ensuing economic downturn has been unprecedented at many levels, Economic Minister Fayyaz Ismail assured that the rapid livelihood assessment is an important step forward in understanding the ground impact on livelihoods and businesses.

The phase one of the assessment also outlines insights and recommendations broadly for the government and for employers in the tourism sector for addressing the needs of employees when resuming operations and adapting in the 'new normal', in addition to addressing the underlying systemic issues on employment to 'build back better' in the longer term.

"This study would also be central in designing policy initiatives aimed at the long-term recovery of the Maldivian economy and worker’s welfare", Fayyaz stated.

The broader rapid assessment, that has yet to be publicised, aims to understand the extent and nature of the pandemic's impact on the country's economy, and to explore the impact on employment, in addition to Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs).

UNDP’s 'Human Development Dashboards on Vulnerability to Pandemics' released in May listed Maldives, a country heavily dependent on tourism, as one of the highest vulnerable nations during the pandemic.

The state closed down the country's tourism industry for three months until July 2020 as a containment measure to reduce the spread of COVID-19 in Maldives.

Presently, the island nation records 1,872 confirmed cases of COVID-19 with 1,217 active cases, 648 recoveries and seven fatalities. Capital Malé, one of the most densely populated places in the world, has recorded a significant increase in COVID-19 cases since recording its first local transmission on April 15.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has classified the spread of COVID-19 as a global pandemic. The new strain of novel coronavirus has infected over 6.7 million people and claimed over 393,000 lives around the world. However, 3.2 million people have recovered from the infection.