African countries ready to welcome travellers; say pandemic helped reinvent the sector
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Africa’s Travel and Tourism Summit (ATTS) is set to reignite the continent’s travel sector after the effects of Covid-19.
The summit's theme is Reawakening Africa, a fitting title considering the industry is doing all they can to rebuild a sector hard hit by Covid-19.
Deputy Minister of Tourism, Amos Fish Mahlalela, said at the launch on Tuesday that the African Union (AU) is also playing its part in trying to support the recovery of the sector.
“The Costed Action Plan for the SADC Tourism Programme has found that countries that significantly rely on tourism and services sectors will experience a downturn in their GDP due to Covid-19 and the resultant restrictions on travel. Micro, small and medium-sized enterprises will be most vulnerable to the impact.
“The pandemic has given the tourism sector the opportunity to reinvent itself, to reflect and reimagine its role in the world. Where there is adversity, there is opportunity. One of the ways it can adapt is by leveraging off of digitisation. Africa has the youngest population, most of whom are digital natives. We can leverage off of youth digital culture and knowledge so as to access new business opportunities within tourism," he said.
South African Tourism Acting CEO Sthembiso Dlamini said the tourism sector has the potential to create jobs and its importance to the economy has not been relinquished.
“Governments are committed to 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 Chief Conventions Bureau Officer of the South African National Conventions Bureau, Amanda Kotze-Nhlapo, said that business events on the continent would need to adapt to a “hybridised environment”.d
The summit is the first event on the continent to be hosted physically and virtually. “The summit also welcomes global community delegates who are curious to understand how tourism has shifted on the African continent in order to re-engineer their packages to their clients based on what is on offer while preparing to do business in the future," she said.
Kotze-Nhlapo added that the summit exists to address the perception that travelling and doing business in Africa is not safe due to Covid-19.
“This was driven mainly by the heightened global media focus on the continent. On the contrary, Africa is ready and open to do business. With our vaccine roll-outs underway in many different countries on the continent – we are proactively regaining our credibility.”