The inaugural Africa’s Travel and Tourism Summit (ATTS) – held as a hybrid event in five cities in Africa, including Durban, Johannesburg and Lagos, from September 19 to 21 – will showcase not only Africa’s attraction as a sought-after destination but highlight its business potential to the global travel industry.
“Africa has, like the rest of the world, been devastated by the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, no sector more so than tourism,” said Acting CEO of South African Tourism, Sthembiso Dlamini at the media launch of the ATTS in Sandton, Johannesburg, today (August 31).
She pointed to pre-COVID-19 statistics showing that Africa’s tourism industry was robust. The World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) reported that tourism generated in excess of US$200 billion – accounting for 6.9% of Africa’s GDP – and had supported 24.7 million jobs.
However, in 2020, after the COVID-19 outbreak, statistics show a marked decrease of US$83 billion and a loss of 7.2 million jobs.
Dlamini emphasised that the tourism sector still had the potential to create jobs and that its importance to the economy had not diminished. “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.”
She added that the Department of Tourism had developed the Tourism Sector Recovery Plan, which looked to preserve the industry’s R189 billion (€XXX) contribution to the Gross Domestic Product and save as many as 125 000 jobs.
Dlamini said, with the Summit’s theme being ‘Reawakening Africa’, it urged tourism stakeholders to reflect, reimagine and reignite tourism on the continent.
“The ideas and solutions that will be discussed will help boost the industry’s resilience in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic,” she said.
‘Opportunity in adversity’
Deputy Minister of Tourism, Amos Fish Mahlalela, said the pandemic had given the tourism sector the opportunity to re-invent 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.”
Mahlalela spoke of the tenacity shown by the South African tourism industry to survive and build its resilience. “The ATTS will focus on how the sector can adapt to a continuously changing landscape and adjust its business practices to not only survive but thrive.”
Chief Conventions Bureau Officer of the South African National Conventions Bureau, Amanda Kotze-Nhlapo, said business events on the continent would need to adapt to what would be a hybridised environment, adding that the Summit was the first event on the continent to be hosted physically and virtually.
“The Summit will also welcome 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.”
Kotze-Nhlapo added that the Summit existed to address the perception that travelling and doing business in Africa was 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 under way in many different countries on the continent, we are proactively regaining our credibility.”
About Africa’s Travel and Tourism Summit
The Summit will open on September 19 with an SMME Workshop that will focus on best practices, collaboration for transformation and changing perceptions of small businesses.
The event’s focus for following two days (September 20 and 21) will be on the industry’s macro-level issues such as how tourism can build a resilient post-COVID-19 business events Industry, how it can create a growth path for the recovery of airlines and how the hospitality industry navigates the regulatory environment in creating sustainable investment opportunities in Africa.
There will be 40 topics over two days and delegates will receive a highly personalised diary of events tailored to their specific needs.
Register for Africa’s Travel and Tourism Summit at www.africatourismsummit.com.