A leading voice of tourism development on the African continent, the African Tourism Board (ATB) is of the position that the “wait and see period on Covid-19” is over for Africa and the time to “ACT NOW”. Going forward, ATB will be releasing industry updates to keep African Tourism stakeholders informed and advised on mitigatory measures we must all take to ensure we survive the damages of the Corona Virus pandemic. It is important to note that for the continent to respond effectively to the threat and damage of Covid-19 a coordinated approach is required. We must all consult, share ideas and advice on recovery measures.
• ATB commends those Member States that have constituted National inter-sectoral or inter-ministerial a Corona Virus Committees or Task Forces. It urges those that have not done so to establish such national structures as a matter of urgency. The purpose of such national structures is to ensure that all sectors are able to feed into the national discussions on the impacts of the pandemic and decisions on priorities for mitigating and recovery.
ATB further urges the Tourism Sector to ensure that both its private and public players
• are adequately represented on these national structures.
• ATB advises on the importance of sharing information and experiences particularly in these situations where countries may have to close their borders to foreign travel and to quarantine sections of the population.
• ATB, therefore, urges the National Tourism Authorities to establish National Tourism Task Teams with resourced research and information dissemination function. Such task forces should continuously, gather information and relevant intelligence on the impact of the virus at the national level and to feed into the National Task Force.
• ATB is at advanced stages in its discussions with Strategic Partners including NEPAD-AUDA and UNWTO to establish a focal point/desk to collect and collate all information from the national structures to facilitate free flow and sharing of vital intelligence to counter the damages of the pandemic.
• ATB recommends that National Task Teams must already be planning for mitigation and rapid recovery. It is equally important that we all as a continent, share such plans.
• In the meantime Member States, Tourism Task Teams responsible for intelligence gathering can share information by contacting ATB at [email protected] The ATB will use such information responsibly and process it for sharing with all Member States and key stakeholders.
ATB continues to advise that the pandemic is already impacting on the health systems and economies of the continent. All countries must be on high alert, taking necessary measures to protect the lives and health of people of the continent and all its visitors. Travel and tourism is a frontline industry in the fight against this pandemic and as we have seen in other parts of the world, it is being hit first and it is being hit hard. Again as reported in affected countries, once in the community, the virus spreads fast and across geographical areas, impacting hard on the health sector and the rest of the economy. Travel and Tourism are affected almost immediately.
The proposed measures are meant to ensure no section of the industry must be caught unawares, all players must be alert to the developments and operators should not go for short term gains or measures but to look at the bigger picture, building resilience and creating measures for a rapid recovery
ATB continues to advise African Governments that post the immediate health and economic impacts, Transport and Tourism are the strategic and frontline sectors with the capacity to pull other sectors of the economy to recovery. But to do that these sectors must be resourced. Therefore the structures proposed in this article must be taken seriously to inform and be a strategic vehicle for crafting and implementing effective management, mitigation, and rapid recovery plans. Resource allocation must prioritize transport, travel, and tourism as strategic to rapid economic recovery.A
More information on the African Tourism Board: www.africantourismboard.com