The Government of Barbados is introducing the Barbados Employment and Sustainable Transformation (BEST) Programme in response to the social and economic impact of COVID-19.
The programme is focused on re-engagement of workers in the tourism sector. The emphasis on tourism is for three reasons:
(a) tourism cannot recover on its own before a vaccine or treatment for COVID is widely distributed;
(b) tourism employs approximately 40% of the workforce; and
(c) there are strong linkages between tourism and the rest of the economy.
COVID-19 has hit the tourism and hospitality industry incredibly hard. Most hotels and tourism businesses are closed. Some are operating at minimum levels. Many workers in the industry have been receiving unemployment benefits since late March.The NIS had a record 68,103 claims from 35,000 individuals. They have already paid out over $108.6 million in six months – the most ever paid out. Some people are still waiting for their second or third cheques. Around 6,000 people have now been laid off for 22 weeks in the tourism sector, if they are not re-engaged shortly, severance pay is due.
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