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Although COVID-19 lockdowns severely affected the financial wellbeing of people dependent on tourism, the social, mental and physical well-being of South Pacific islanders living in the region’s main tourist destinations actually showed improvements, according to a study.

The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) estimates that the drop in international arrivals caused a loss of up to US$2.4 trillion in GDP in 2020 and that it is possible that a similar loss will occur again this year.

The study, published in the Journal of Sustainable Tourism, surveyed people in Samoa, Vanuatu, Solomon Islands, Cook Islands and Fiji—countries that rely on tourism for between 12.5 and 87 percent of their GDP, according to the South Pacific Tourism Organisation.

Regina Scheyvens, lead author of the study and co-director of the Pacific Research and Policy Centre at Massey University, New Zealand tells SciDev.Net: “We wanted to know what Pacific populations did to adapt since the shutdown due to pandemic and what they are doing to support each other.

“But we also wanted to know what could be done to support them, in terms of governments’ approaches, donors, NGOs and in terms of what private tourism businesses themselves could do.”

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