JEDDAH: The global tourism sector is facing a human resource crunch even as it is recouping from the pandemic and eyeing global revenues of $3.4 trillion a year, said a senior member of the United Nations World Tourism Organization.
In an exclusive interview with Arab News on the sidelines of the 116th Executive Council of the UNWTO, Kenya’s Minister of Tourism and Wildlife Najib Balala disclosed that the human resource challenges in the tourism industry in the aftermath of the pandemic were for real.
“We have realized the shortage of human resources in tourism. Because when the pandemic happened, many people went to other sectors. We need to bring back, retain and reskill young people to come into the industry,” Balala told Arab News.
He also said that the cost of doing business in the tourism sector is high due to the rising fuel prices. However, despite the overall situation, the UNWTO has targeted revenue of $3.4 trillion a year. He further urged all countries to work toward this goal.
While speaking about the initiatives being undertaken in Kenya, the minister said the country would invest $100 million in tourism in the next five years.
“Tourism in Kenya is about 8 to 9 percent of the gross domestic product. It employs 9 percent of Kenya’s population out of 50 million people. So it’s a huge sector. We need to facilitate and improve the infrastructure,” said Balala.
It is also banking on technology to build its digital infrastructure. For example, the country is launching a digital visa card next week, which will allow people to make payments using their phones without using a physical card.