The State of Tourism in Africa As Travel Tries to Resume

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)

Instagram: @worldtoafrica


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 implementing 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 lockdown (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 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 lockdown 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 that occur every day (2 times per day) and will continue for at least the next three months.

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. Intercity 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 overflowing. 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 hindrance 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.