LEADERS OF tourism sector and Government will converge on the African soil for the Africa’s Travel and Tourism Summit (ATTS).
It has been pencilled from September 20 to 21, 2021 (Tourism month).
The Summit would serve as a platform for travel trade across the continent to come together and share ideas on how to revive the industry, as a result of the pandemic that continues to hamper the economy and tourism.
In 2020, after the Covid-19 outbreak, statistics show a marked decrease of US$83-billion and a loss of 7.2-million jobs.
This downturn trend was experienced by all tourism sectors across the globe.
South African Tourism acting CEO, Sthembiso Dlamini says “Governments are committed in supporting the tourism industry’s revival. In South Africa, this is evident in its Economic Reconstruction and Recovery Plan, where tourism is listed as one of eight interventions for rebooting the economy.”
The Department of Tourism has developed the Tourism Sector Recovery Plan, which looks to preserve the industry’s R189-billion and save as many as 125,000 jobs.
The Summit’s theme has been coined ‘Reawakening Africa’, that urges tourism stakeholders to reflect, reimagine and reignite tourism on the continent.
Posed to the deputy minister of Tourism Fish Mahlalela, through hybrid, what is the role of African Union in mitigating on this matter, he said (AU) is also playing its part in trying to support the recovery of the sector.
“In April 2020, the AU drew up The Continental Tourism Recovery Strategy and called on the African Union Commission, Regional Economic Communities, the African Civil Aviation Commission, the African Development Bank, UNWTO, WTTC, and international development partners, to provide technical expertise, resources and support for the Continental Tourism Recovery Strategy,” says the deputy minister.
On the pandemic, Mahlalela said, it impacted badly on the Southern African Development Community’s member states, saying that it could cost the region up to 4.5-million jobs and up to US$40-billion in GDP.
Mahlalela, also pointed out that the issue of SA, being put on the red-list in the UK, is very concerning and should be addressed soon by all parties, since UK is a ‘cash-cow’ for SA, be it travel or business.
“Most developed nations have adjusted their travel restrictions so as to protect their people against Covid-19.
The UK has developed a traffic light system that indicates which countries are safe for travel. It is alarming to see that most African countries have been placed on the UK’s red list for travel destinations,” he says.
This is partly because of the slow rollout of Covid-19 vaccines across the continent and negative reports in the media, says Mahlalela.
The only way to convince the UK and other States is by ramping our vaccination roll-out campaigns in SA and the continent, he said.
Most of the time we under-sell ourselves, and this will hamper our growth and sustainability on the continent, says the worried Kwakye Donkor, CE at Africa Tourism Partners.
“The world should know without people, there is no travel, and there will be no tourism,” says Donkor, a Ghananian born.
He said collaborations with other European States should not always be formal, but one has to begin from the ground and this pandemic has taught us that.
“We must strive to begin in Africa and do as Africans do, then the rest of the world will recognise us, not the other way around,” said Donkor, who was invited as a panellist.
Amanda Kotze-Nhlapo, CE at the Conference Bureau SA said the matter of disabilities and transformation within the sector remains a going concern.
With technology (4IR) now an ‘in-thing’, its upon us to engage, involve and open opportunities for the disabled to partake in the economy of this country, by so doing we shall be crafting the way for transformation in the sector, said Kotze- Nhlapo who also alluded that she took her jab.
Transformation within the tourism sector seems like a far-fetched idea.
Both Gauteng and Durban were chosen to host the Summit- either virtual or physical.
It will cover over 40 topics in those two-days.
Meanwhile, the FS province will host this years’ World Tourism Day on September 27.