By Charndré Emma Kippie
The New Norms
Early last month, President Cyril Ramaphosa revealed that his cabinet had approved brand new standards and regulations for safer operations to be implemented in the South African tourism sector. This was decided keeping Covid-19 and other future pandemics in mind.
Talking on the new norms and standards, as well as important health and safety procedures, Acting Minister in the Presidenc,y Khumbudzo Ntshavheni added that:
“This will ensure uniformity across the tourism sector…They will cover services such as accommodation, food, tour operators, casinos, weddings and other related activities.”
Acting Minister Ntshavheni also noted that the launch of these new regulations should place South Africa on the same level as international markets, and may enable the tourism sector to be completely open for international tourist arrivals.
As of recently, the country has maintained its open borders for incoming international tourists, as a result of eased lockdown restrictions which occurred mid-2020. Unfortunately, however, other countries have not reciprocated in this approach, and South Africans are facing strict travel restrictions.
This situation has also had an impact on tourists who are hesitant to visit South Africa due to the difficulties experienced when returning home.
SA Tourism Struggles
- The Tourism 2020 report, composed by Statistics South Africa, indicates that all foreign arrivals in the country had dropped by 71% from just over 15, 8 million in 2019.
- This number then dropped by 5 million in 2020.
- The overall number of travellers (arrivals and departures) decreased by 71,0% between 2019 and 2020.
- The overall number of travellers decreased by 50,7% over a 15-year period from nearly 24,6 million recorded in 2006 to 12,1 million travellers recorded in 2020.
Revitalising the Sector: Africa’s Travel and Tourism Summit
It’s not all ‘doom and gloom’, as Africa’s Travel and Tourism Summit (ATTS) is set to reinvigorate the continent’s (and South Africa’s especially) travel sector in an effort to remedy the devastating effects of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The Department of Tourism and South African Tourism recently announced that they’d be hosting Africa’s first ever Travel and Tourism Summit from 19 to 21 September 2021 – which will take the form of a hybrid summit.
The summit will coincide with Tourism Month in South Africa and aims to be a catalyst for engagement on the current state of tourism on the African continent.
Acting SA Tourism CEO, Sthembiso Dlamini, ignited conversation around the summit ahead of the event to garner awareness. Dlamini emphasised that the Africa’s Travel and Tourism Summit will bring together the tourism sector cohort to share valuable insights and ideas to explore collaborative efforts that possess the potential to lead the continent’s recovery.
Dlamini also said the summit is geared towards attracting African community delegates, African Tourism Ministers, industry associations, tourism boards, destination marketing organisations, as well as various collaborators across the tourism value chain.
“The African continent is resilient and this summit is important, as it will contribute towards picking up the momentum within the sector, as it works towards an inclusive recovery”, exclaimed Dlamini.
“The COVID-19 pandemic may have dealt both business and leisure tourism a heavy blow, but we are now in the recovery phase, and a summit of this nature is critical in ensuring that we are aligned as a continent, whilst reigniting the tourism industry”.
Discussion Topics For The ATTS Include:
- Health and Safety Protocols
- Africa’s positioning post the Covid-19 pandemic
Dlamini also spoke on delegate participation at the summit, indicating that they will have the choice of attending the event virtually or at any of the stipulated venues across South Africa – or at one of three additional locations located in other parts of the African continent (pending COVID-19 lockdown regulations).
“All venues will have COVID-19 health and safety protocols in place. We have opted for the hybrid format in order for us, as a continent, to lead the way in demonstrating how tourism can be enjoyed safely whilst adhering to health protocols. It is important that we are diligent in reigniting the sector, as it contributes significantly to the African economy”, said Dlamini.
He also noted that the Department of Tourism has developed the Tourism Sector Recovery Plan, whose aim is to preserve and save as many as 125 000 jobs.
With the success of this event, Africa should be able to steadily move forwards with a game plan to revitalise the tourism sector, especially now that the vaccination rollout is making progress. Thus, safer travel precautions and safeguarded immune systems should assist in getting society back on track – as well as the economy.
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