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July 2 2022 2:40 AM ˚
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Officials say few travel agencies workers lost jobs during pandemic

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(Photo: Envato Elements)
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AMMAN — Claims that travel agencies seized the opportunity to get rid of their employees when tourism stopped due to the COVID-19 pandemic, by a report prepared by a local investigative media center, were denied by travel agents and the Jordan Society for Travel Agents(JSTA).اضافة اعلان

Mahmoud Khasawneh, member of the JSTA board of directors, said that the report covered individual cases and was not holistic as it did not talk about the situation in general.

According to Khasawneh, only 280 out of 6,295 employees at travel agencies lost their jobs during the pandemic, including those who decided to quit for reasons that are not related to the pandemic, such as looking for better options in other fields.

The report said that some travel agencies fired their employees under the pretext that they were going to close their offices. It also says that some travel agencies excluded senior employees and accountants but fired others, which is illegal.

Labor Ministry Spokesperson Mohammad Zyoud said that the ministry is responsible for all matters involving workers and for taking action in case of complaints filed by employees.

Zyoud said that the ministry has created an online platform, “Hemayah.jo”, to which workers may resort if they feel their rights were violated, adding that employees have the option to file cases secretly.

Once a case is filed, the ministry follows up and takes the appropriate action, Zyoud said.

Sulaiman Abu Dalu, who has been working at a travel agency for 20 years, said that he did not quit his job and continued to receive his salary as determined by the related defense order.

In other agencies, employees took unpaid vacations upon promises and they will be taken back.

According to Khasawneh, the Social Security Corporation lent support to the sector through it program “Istidamah” which covered 85 per cent of the workers’ salaries for 13 months and extended the coverage until the end June this year.

Between March 2020 and July 2021, 136 tourist facilities submitted requests to stop operating; 89 of them resumed their activities when the sector was granted partial relief, according to the report.

During the pandemic, 307 tourist offices out of 800 had failed to renew their licenses by April 2021. Nearly 10,000 employees used to work in these offices spread across the 12 governorates of Jordan.

Noor [no full name], an employee at a travel agency, said that some employees agreed to take unpaid vacations out of loyalty to their agencies and because they felt they should also bear some of the burdens inflicted by the pandemic.

After six months of no income, she returned to her job and started working again.

The tourism sector contributes 13 percent of the GDP, with an income of JD4.1 billion ($5.78 billion) for the year 2019, and directly employs more than 53,000 workers, according to official figures.

Tourism revenues declined from JD4.1 billion ($5.7 billion) in 2019 to JD1 billion ($1.4 billion) the following year.


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