Tourism Minister, Edmund Bartlett, says approximately 75-per cent of the sector’s workforce has been laid off as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Minister Bartlett says only 40 thousand workers of the one-hundred and sixty thousand people employed directly to the sector remain employed in some capacity.

The Tourism Minister was speaking this afternoon during a digital media briefing to provide an update on state of the sector.

He notes that approximately 62 billion US dollars in foreign exchange has been lost across the Caribbean due to the fall-off in tourism, caused by the pandemic.

Minister Bartlett says unemployment has risen to as high as 30 per cent in many tourism-dependent countries in the region.

Minister Bartlett says in this context it’s imperative that the country works towards achieving a swift recovery in order to avoid such untenable levels of unemployment lasting for too long.

However, the Minister says further relief will be given to the industry in the form of a six-month moratorium on all industry related fees, forgoing revenue valued at some 10 million dollars.

Meanwhile, Minister Bartlett says the government is to launch its tourism workers online training programme next Wednesday.

The programme is designed to improve the quality of service being offered in the tourism sector once the industry reopens for business.

Minister Bartlett says one new dimension to the programme is the training of tourism workers in health protocols in light of the lessons learnt from the COVID-19 pandemic.