Broderick Mervyn said the majority of Fiji’s tourism industry’s workforce were young people – and he was concerned at the devastating economic impact this would have on them.
Mervyn, who is a coordinator for Ignite4Change, said the consequences would affect generations to come.
Tourism is one of the biggest revenue earners for the Fiji’s economy, RNZP reports.
This week the Fiji Hotel and Tourism Association chief executive Fantasha Lockington, said there were a number of vulnerable groups hard hit.
“This can include anything from tour operators, dive businesses, transport providers, the boat transfers if you are a food manufacturer or food provider, restaurants, bars, spas.
“All these activities would have dried up now and these people have either shut down their business or closed to sustain their livelihood or just trying to survive and many of these workers have been sent home.”
Mervyn said many young people employed in the tourism industry were breadwinners for their families.
He said he was also concerned that many young people in Fiji would not be able to return to school due to the pandemic.
The government has closed all schools in the country until mid-June.
Mervyn said it was evident the mental health of young people would be significantly affected due to the crisis.
“The changes arising from Covid-19 have contributed to the closing of educational establishments. Students are now forced to continue with their education from home.
“Especially vulnerable are those who do not have access to smartphones or networking to pursue the online lessons as offered in many industrialized and urban contexts.”
Mervyn called on young Fijians to adhere to the government’s restrictions imposed due to Covid-19.
Almost 2000 people had been arrested by police for breaching curfew including social gatherings and loitering, more than half of them were youths.
Mervyn said medical officials could not succeed in ensuring the safety of the nation without the public’s help.
He said everyone, including young people, played an important role in helping the government tackle the pandemic.
“The sooner the coronavirus was gone, the sooner Fijians could return to their normal lives,” he said.