Migrant Workers in the Tourism Industry: How has COVID-19 Affected Them, and What Does the Future Hold?


Governments around the world have closed borders and businesses to combat the spread of COVID-19. These measures have had a devastating effect on the tourism industry, cutting travel by 25 percent and costing more than 100 million jobs. These effects are magnified for the industry’s millions of migrant workers. Many have been laid off or furloughed, forced to overstay visas, and asked to take leave or reduced salaries, affecting them, their families, and their home countries dependent on remittance flows. But prior to COVID-19, the industry was not without blemish, and poor working conditions were prevalent. This paper explores how governments and civil society should support migrant workers in the short-term. It also seeks to explore how the tourism industry could use this moment to ‘build back better’ in the long-term, improving both environmental sustainability and the conditions under which its key workers operate.

Rights & Permissions

You may use and disseminate CGD’s publications under these conditions.