Tourism Minister Lindiwe Sisulu says she is pleased that discussions are underway to find ways of getting the country and the continent out of the pandemic and revive the tourism sector.
“I am glad that we are having this African Travel and Tourism Summit, hosted by South Africa, to rethink, recalibrate and find our way out of this situation we are in, where the pandemic has strangulated the tourism industry,” Sisulu said.
Addressing the African Travel and Tourism Summit on Monday, Sisulu said the COVID-19 pandemic has had a more negative impact on tourism activities in the first half of 2020 than anticipated.
Sisulu said although recovery has begun, even though the pandemic is continuing to spread, many countries have been slow to re-open, with some reinstating partial or complete lockdowns to protect susceptible populations.
“It is befitting that the launch of the Africa Travel and Tourism Summit is taking place during Tourism Month, when South Africa celebrates tourism and heritage.
“This summit enjoys the participation of the African community delegates, who aim to understand how tourism has shifted in the African continent and identify new opportunities.
“This summit unpacks the four main themes of Best Practice for Brand Africa, Sectoral Transformation, Leisure and Business Opportunities, and Strengthening and Enabling Economic Capabilities,” Sisulu said.
Sisulu said before the COVID-19 pandemic, the dream and narrative around Africa’s tourism sector was “inspiringly vivid”.
“It was a dream of a continent rising and freeing itself from the shackles of stigmatisation of us as unsafe, uncouth and unwelcoming.
“Today, we celebrate the rising giant that is Africa. We celebrate her natural vast wonders, ranging from the plains and woodlands of the Serengeti, to the arid Kgalagardi Transfrontier Park, to the beach elephants of the greater St Lucia and the Pyramids of Giza,” Sisulu said.
Sisulu said the summit affords Africa’s tourism leaders a platform to create solutions for Africa and contribute to global solutions for the industry in efforts to awaken a new beginning for Africa.
Before the COVID-19 pandemic, the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) indicated that Africa’s tourism industry was robust. It reported that tourism generated in excess of US$200 billion (approximately R3 trillion), accounting for 6.9% of Africa’s GDP, whilst supporting 24.7 million jobs.
Following the outbreak of the pandemic, the WTTC statistics showed a decrease of US$83 billion (or R1.2 trillion) and a loss of 7.2 million jobs. This downturn trend was experienced by all tourism sectors across the globe.
Source: South African Government News Agency