United States Assists Timor-Leste’s Tourism Recovery in Wake of Global COVID-19 Pandemic

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For Immediate Release

Tuesday, June 16, 2020
USAID Contact: USAID Development Outreach Communications Officer James Reindl, Email:  jreindl@usaid.gov or Development Outreach Communications Specialist Cristóvão Fausto Guterres, 330-0500 ext. 2038, 7732-6213. Email: cguterres@usaid.gov.

DILI, TIMOR-LESTE — The U.S. Embassy in Dili’s USAID project, Tourism For All (TFA)  has prepared an initiative that will assist the Government of Timor-Leste and Timorese businesses recover from the loss of revenue since the COVID-19 pandemic. The project aims to stimulate tourism demand, assist small and medium enterprises and connect Timor-Leste’s tourism pioneers to the international tourism industry.

Based on its analysis of multiple interviews with tourism operators in Timor-Leste from dive shops to hotels and handicraft merchants, TFA identified a three-pillared proposed recovery strategy focused on managing the crisis and mitigating the impact; providing stimulus and accelerating recovery; and, preparing for the future. 

TFA also prepared a “Timor-Leste Tourism Reboot Initiative” to assist the Ministry of Tourism, Commerce and Industry in restarting the industry.  TFA’s ideas include a domestic campaign to stimulate tourism demand from within the country; establishing an advisory hotline for medium and small enterprises to seek help; and collaborating with micro-finance institutions to improve access to finance for those enterprises.  TFA also proposes other ways to highlight emerging tourism destinations and recognizing tourism community pioneers and leaders.

“This “Reboot” for the Tourism for All Project is another example of how the United States is supporting Timor-Leste during the COVID-19 challenge and mitigating its economic impact, including on the tourism industry.”   said U.S. Ambassador Kathleen Fitzpatrick.  “The United States is committed globally and here in Timor-Leste to adapting our programs to meet this challenge in addition to our financial contribution, which has reached over $1.6 million here and more than $1 billion worldwide.”

“As an employer of more than 220 people in Timor-Leste, predominantly in the hospitality service industry, we believe a joint effort with the Timor-Leste Government and other agencies including USAID’s Tourism for All project is critical to revitalize the Tourism industry,” said Sam Aluwihare, chief economic officer of East Timor Trading Group and the vice chairman of the Hotel Owners of

Timor-Lorosae. “It is imperative to retain what we have built together over the past 18 years, maintain our people in employment and reboot the sector to achieve the country's goal of a diversified economy and 200,000 tourists per annum by 2030. “

TFA is assisting the Timor-Leste Ministry of Tourism, Commerce, and Industry to implement its national tourism strategy, which has a goal of attracting 200,000 international tourists annually by 2030 to earn the country $150 million in revenues and directly employ 15,000 workers.  Growing its tourism industry is a key element of Timor-Leste’s plan to diversify its oil-dependent economy.

The United States is  helping people around the world, not only through the US government but also  through the generosity of private businesses, nonprofit groups, charitable organizations, faith-based organizations, and individuals.  Together, Americans have provided more than $4 billion in donations and assistance, in addition to what the U.S. government has provided worldwide.

NOTE: The full report,  “Timor-Leste Tourism Reboot Initiative: A Proactive Plan For the After-Corona Era.” is available here: https://www.timorleste.tl/documents/timor-leste-tourism-reboot-initiative/.

USAID works in partnership with the government of Timor-Leste to support broad-based and effective development.  Since 2002, the United States has provided $542 million in development assistance to Timor-Leste.  USAID supports Timor-Leste in its efforts to build a more prosperous, healthy, and democratic country through programs that foster inclusive and sustainable economic growth, especially in the agriculture and tourism  sectors; improve the health of the Timorese people, particularly women and children; and strengthen the foundations of good governance—all areas which are highlighted in Timor-Leste’s Strategic Development Plan 2011-2030.  To learn more, visit: www.usaid.gov/timor-leste