The State of Tourism in Africa As Travel Tries to Resume
Updated: Aug 21
CEO Town Hall: State of the Industry - June 18, 2020
HOST: Africa Tourism Association
MODERATOR: Kojo Bentum-Williams, Voyages Afriq Media
Description: Tourism Leaders from Ghana, Kenya, South Africa, Uganda and Zimbabwe will address questions and issues put before them by a global audience of industry leaders, small and medium business owners, and travelers alike.
Africa Tourism Association (ATA)
The CEO Town Hall was hosted virtually by Africa Tourism Association and moderated by Voyages Afriq Media. I was excited to be able to attend and hear from senior leaders from various African countries. While each CEO provided an update on tourism in their countries, travel restrictions have been detrimental to all. All CEOs are committed to implement policies to regain the trust of travelers and safely reopen to tourists. The following is a brief summary from each CEO in attendance.
Sisa Ntshona, CEO SA Tourism
South Africa is in level 3 lock down (3 out of 5) only domestic business travel is allowed between cities. The alert level 1 will indicate when international travel can resume but no date has been determined or announced. The private sector is lobbying for a September reopening. Trust & confidence will be important in getting people to come back to South Africa. Test & tracing is now key in the fight. National parks are open but only for “self drive” (small groups). Conferences have been canceled on a massive scale. Campaign is being planned to inform South Africans how to travel domestically. Public & private sector collaboration is in underway to develop travel and hospitality protocols. Recovery must include inter continent travel between African countries. "This is the time for SME's [Small and Medium-sized Enterprise] to thrive as they are best suited to meet the new traveler's needs" said Mr. Ntshona. To keep the public informed, the Department of Health Republic of South Africa provides a comprehensive online portal for COVID-19 resources and news.
Dr. Betty Adero Radier, CEO
Kenya Tourism Board
Kenya did not have a full lock down but there is a curfew @ 9:00 PM. Certain sectors remain open as they want to sustain the economy. Protocols have been developed that will lead to a “certification” that will address people’s concern regarding safety & health at establishments. The certification will allow people to see & easily identify establishments that meet the safety protocols. Kenya remains closed to international travel and they Live virtual safari tours which occur every day (2 times per day) and will continue for at least the next three months. http://ktb.go.ke/
Lilly Ajarova, CEO Uganda Tourism Board
Uganda instituted a curfew and restriction on internal transportation. No tourism – some small business tourism operators have closed. When travel restrictions are reopened, Uganda will need to address the ongoing concern that the locals cannot afford domestic tourism. Major destinations are the parks who cater to the high end travelers. Is considering developing a “tour package” specifically for domestic tourism. One of the rare silver backs, Rafiki, was killed by hunters at the beginning of June and his death could affect tourism. Rafiki was the leader of a group of habituated gorillas (used to human contact). As a major attraction to visitors, there is no confirmed date when the gorilla tracking will return. For the future, Uganda is looking to promote the culture (numerous tribes) in the country. In the meantime, communications will continue sharing inspirational messages to potential visitors.
Givemore Chidzidzi, CEO
Zimbabwe Tourism Authority
Zimbabwe is under level 2 alert formal where businesses are able to reopen under strict rules. Inter city travel is restricted & remains closed. Restaurants are only doing take out. God heard the prayers of the dry Victoria Falls in 2019. Now Victoria Falls is over flowing. Media is allowed access to capture the images to share with the world. Government has put together a Tourism Revival Fund to guarantee loans to tourism businesses. Domestic tourism will begin first with business travelers. Small meetings can currently occur. Very strict protocols – sanitization, temperature check, etc. Pricing is the major hinderence to the domestic traveler. Tour operators are targeting affluent business so there are no price controls. To help, the Government has decided not to charge VAT. “We miss the tourist” - Lets revere these visitors when they return … they are very important to our economy.
Akwasi Agyeman, CEO Ghana Tourism Authority
GHANA – After the highly successful "Return to Ghana" in 2019 the “Beyond the Year of Return” campaign was to launch in 2020 but has been put on hold. Looking toward a global measure to fund the sector to help the industry players. In the short term Ghana will focus on domestic in-region travel. By December restrictions will be eased but no date set for international travelers to return. Will work on virtual tourism in the meantime. Working on developing protocols for airport, restaurants and hotels. Ghana is also discussing certification similar to certification in Kenya. Testing protocols is currently underway with a new arrival of travelers from the UK. Hopefully airports will reopen end of August.
The Town Hall meeting ended with a consensus between CEOs that it will be a united effort to further open borders between countries in Africa. Travel will not be the same but there was agreement the new "normal" will be better than in the past.
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