AFRICA NEWS | Volume 18. December 2020
Dear esteemed readers,
The pandemic that has struck this year has, unfortunately, hit tourism and travel in an unexpected and unprecedented way. Over recent months, he global tourism and travel sectors have come together and have been coordinating closely through various platforms. Chief among them is the UNWTO Global Tourism Crisis Committee, founded and led by our Secretary General to work on solutions to restart tourism. The use of technology and innovation has been anchored in all aspects of our work as we seek to identify creative solutions to mitigate the effects of this pandemic and then restart tourism.
For the first time in the history of tourism, we’ve seen 100% of all world destinations impose restrictions on travel. This has caused sudden shocks in both the supply and demand sides of the entire tourism value chain. This has had both social and economic consequences. Travel restrictions unfortunately remain one of the biggest challenges as we work towards re-establishing the confidence need for people to travel again.
There is an urgent need for comprehensive and harmonized travel protocols. This is another prerequisite for restoring confidence in the mind of travelers and the protection of jobs and livelihoods are key elements for the rebuilding of a safer and resilient tourism sector in Africa. In order to achieve this objective a strong coordination is necessary among tourism stakeholders across the continent to boost interregional travel.
As countries gradually open-up their borders, UNWTO, through its Regional Department for Africa, will continue to play a vital role in helping Member States to build their tourism sectors back better and smarter. A short survey of our Member States has allowed us to realign the priority areas of the Africa Agenda – Tourism for Inclusive Growth and better address the needs resulting from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
We recognised that there is a need to rethink tourism post-COVID-19 and our emphasis lately has been focused on crisis management. For this reason, we have conducted several virtual workshops providing Member States with tools and techniques on crisis management. In addition, we are working on a white paper on security in tourism. This is being produced in collaboration with AUDA-NEPAD and UEMOA (The West African Monetary and Economic Union) and is to be published in 2021.
We continue to support Members with their recovery programmes stressing the importance of ensuring that there are health and sanitary protocols in place which need to be monitored and improved whenever required. We have additionally developed the first comprehensive tourism recovery tracker, which monitors a number of relevant indicators worldwide.
Looking ahead, I remain optimistic that travel will gradually resume. However, we all need to do our part and ensure greater collaboration amongst all stakeholders. I look forward to next year when Africa will be host to the World Tourism Day celebrations in Cote d´Ivoire, the 24th session of the General Assembly in Morocco and the annual regional commission in Cabo Verde. Furthermore, we anticipate hosting the first Brand Africa conference, launching a book on African Gastronomy and also hosting a Ministerial Conference on Security perspectives and resilience for the tourism sector.
In the face of the challenges brought by the pandemic, over the year’s tourism has shown its ability to bounce back and adapt to the new reality. We are already experiencing these adjustments and ways of conducting business and my hope is that we remain focused and reiterate UNWTO’s commitment to work towards making our sector stronger and better. Finally, I take this opportunity to wish you and your loved ones happy holidays and a peaceful and safe start to the New Year 2021.
Regional Department for Africa