COVID-19 and international movements
Nearly 90% of the World’s population is subject to some form of international travel restrictions as a result of the COVID-19 global pandemic. This has halted travel demand, with significant implications for airlines, and carriers such as Air Mauritius and Virgin Australia have been put into voluntary administration. In 2020, Africa is expected to lose over half the air traffic it had in 2019, losing USD 6 billion in passenger revenue, and nearly half of the sector’s employees.
Such restrictions will have a big impact on the World’s economies. The US is expected to experience a USD 400 billion reduction in travel spending for 2020, representing a loss of USD 900 billion in economic output. But some of the most impacted countries will be those small economies dependent on trade and tourism. Mauritius, for example, is estimated to experience a 59% decrease in passengers in 2020 in comparison to 2019, losing USD 2 billion in GDP and over 73,000 jobs due to the reduction in tourism alone. The former Minister of Finance of Mauritius, Dr Rama Sithanen, spoke of an L-shaped curve, rather than the often spoken of ‘V’-shaped curves of recovery, for many of Mauritius’s leading industries.
Nevertheless, the virus is creating opportunities for some and challenges for others. On the one hand, e-retail logistics, on-demand and last mile delivery sectors are amongst the highest growth sectors as a result of the Coronavirus crisis. On the other hand, the automotive, oil and petroleum distribution, construction, and steel production sectors have seen a drastic fall in demand. These heavyweight industries have been afflicted with both supply and demand shocks that make recovery slow and painful. Companies in land-locked and small island states are also facing severe disruptions to production, being unable to receive the necessary inputs and raw material to continue producing.