The African Tourism Board (ATB) welcomes the move by South Africa to open international travel beginning October 1, 2020. South Africa President Cyril Ramaphosa made the official announcement on Wednesday.
The President explained that travel in and out of South Africa for business and leisure will be allowed with possible restrictions on countries currently experiencing high rates of COVID-19 infections.
“As South Africa is the strategic hub for connectivity to the rest of the African continent, this move will motivate and enhance member states to follow suit with travel and tourism making a critical economic contribution to the regional gross domestic product,” said Cuthbert Ncube, Chairman of the African Tourism Board.
The ATB is also in line with the African Union’s initiative towards the Single African Air Transport Market (SAATM) as a flagship project for the Agenda 2026. The objective of this project is to create a single unified air transport market to liberalize civil aviation and advance the continent’s economic development. The SAATM will play a major role in connecting Africa; promoting its social, economic, and political integration; and boosting intra-Africa trade and tourism as a result. This will influence a robust integrated approach to the economic development to the region.
Mr. Ncube added: “We urge the African continent to find ways to start trading sooner rather than later in order to stop job losses and alleviate unemployment and poverty.”
The business and event travel and tourism sector has been proactive in making sure that industry-specific public health and safety protocol standards are developed and implemented in compliance with the Safer Tourism Seal endorsement program. These sectors are self-regulating and putting great public health and safety measures and protocols in place.
What is required now is consistent communication to appease business event tourism owners and travelers who are looking for ways to navigate the uncertainties of COVID-19.
“We urge member states to coordinate and synchronize their efforts in activating the continent’s economy. We need to focus on consumer restoration which is essential to tourism-economic recovery. Africa should begin by creating structures and organizational policies that allow the continent to collaborate among all role players,” the African Tourism Board Chair concluded.