COVID-19 pandemic has accentuated inequalities worldwide that range from gender inequalities and lack of social inclusion to socioeconomic deprivation, poor or no access to health, education and more.

The health crisis has proven to be hard for communities that suffer from deprivation and is having severe implications in all sectors of life. Many of these communities living mostly in rural areas of Central and South America, Asia and Africa rely on the income that is generated by selling crafts produced at home or in workshops and local cooperatives to tourists. The tourism industry, though, has been hardly hit by the pandemic with a decline that reaches 60-80% in international arrivals affecting heavily cultural tourism that makes up almost 40% of world tourism revenues and includes intangible cultural practices and crafts. With people not physically traveling to other places (and hence buying handicrafts), the communities working on the crafts’ creative sector have been severely affected and often lost the income the rely on to have access to food, health and education.

As numbers evidence:

  • there is 60-80% reduction of international arrivals in 2020
  • 75 million jobs under the tourism sector are under threat
  • 46% of the global population remains offline
  • cultural tourism makes up 40% of world tourism revenues
  • cultural industries contribute US $2,250 billions to global economy

Craftsmen populations that preserve the living heritage of craft currently face lack of access to markets, art fairs and craft festivals. New means to access markets and sell products are required to assist people to maintain their crafting activities and sell their goods. However, having access not only to markets or equipment, but also enhancing the intergenerational “transmission” process to document and disseminate stories, skills, traditional knowledge, oral traditions, and performing arts related to crafts can contribute to building sustainable futures for the crafts and the communities that perform them.

Furthermore, the indigenous populations of the world that are also bearers of intangible heritage are not only threatened by physical disappearance, due to lack of access to health care and extreme poverty as they cannot support income through selling crafts. The pandemic has also imposed a cultural threat over them, as the elder that have gone, often took the intangible knowledge of crafts and culture with them. “Transmission” thus becomes even more crucial in order to ensure both the craft’s and communities’ survival.

Such process can further “valorise” craft for the crafting communities themselves and form part of the branding and commercial success of such products.

Recognising the importance of craft and the creative industries, international organisations have launched efforts , such as the ResiliArt virtual discussions from UNESCO, to support artists and shed light on the state of creative industries, art value and impact on creative economy. Similarly, the Creative Industries Federation launched the  #OurWorldWithout campaign, that is also supported by the Crafts Council in order to emphasize the need to enhance creative industries and save the crafts sector, as they are heavily impacted by COVID-19. Another effort that is currently running is a survey from the UNESCO to collect data about the ways that living heritage experiences are affected by the pandemic. Many of the recorded data are presented in a global map, where institutions from around the world present initiatives that intend to reinforce living and intangible heritage during the pandemic.



Creative Industries Federation. (2020), “#OurWorldWithout”, available at:

Persian Garden Institute for Living Heritage. (2020), “Family- and small workshop-based crafts”, UNESCO, available at:

UNESCO. (2020), “Tourism”, CULTURE & COVID-19: Impact and Response Tracker, No. 11, available at:

UNESCO. (2020), “Special issue”, CULTURE & COVID-19: Impact and Response Tracker, No. July, available at:

UNESCO. (2020), “Impact Assessment Study of Covid-19 on the Creative Sector”, available at:

UNESCO. (2020), “Indigenous people”, CULTURE & COVID-19: Impact and Response Tracker, No. 10, available at:

UNESCO. (2020), “Join UNESCO’s global movement – ResiliArt. A global effort to support artists and ensure access to culture for all.”, available at:

UNESCO. (2020), “Living heritage experiences in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic”, available at: