ECLAC: UN Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean

Committee Overview:

The Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) is one of the five UN regional commissions to promote regional economic cooperation. Originally just created with a focus on Latin America, it was later expanded to include the Caribbean. Through offices spread throughout the region, ECLAC works to encourage intra-regional trade, expand new industries, and generally promote economic development. Later, the organization also included social development in its mandate and sought to usher all communities in the region towards an equitable and prosperous standard of living.

Topic: Promoting Tourism in the Wake of COVID-19

For many countries in Latin America and the Caribbean, tourism is a major engine for economic growth. Before 2020, tourism in the region grew 10% annually, and in countries like the Bahamas, tourism contributed to nearly half of the country’s GDP. However, the outbreak of COVID-19 caused serious economic harm to many communities across the region. The World Travel and Tourism Council estimates that Latin America suffered USD 230 billion in tourism losses in 2020 alone. Over 12 million jobs were lost, forcing many tourism-industry workers into poverty. The development of the COVID-19 vaccine has created a new sense of hope for the future of tourism, but the deployment of vaccines has been slow. As of May 2021, over 120 countries had still not vaccinated even a quarter of their population. Many of these countries are in Latin America and the Caribbean, exposing potential workers to the risk of infection and making these countries seem dangerous for travel. For tourism to resume, countries must work to vaccinate tourism-industry workers and make financial tools available to tourism businesses. The more ECLAC delays with making these resources available, the more difficult it will be to start these businesses anew.