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WTN Urgent Call for OECD States to Compensate the African Tourism Industry


The recent isolation of Southern African countries due to the newly-detected Omicron variant of the Coronavirus has members of the African Travel and Tourism Industry frustrated and angry.

The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) is an international organization that works to build better policies for better lives. The goal is to shape policies that foster prosperity, equality, opportunity, and well-being for all.

Together with governments, policymakers, and citizens, OECD works on establishing evidence-based international standards and finding solutions to a range of social, economic, and environmental challenges. From improving economic performance and creating jobs, to fostering strong education and fighting international tax evasion, OECD provides a unique forum and knowledge hub for data and analysis, exchange of experiences, best-practice sharing, and advice on public policies and international standard-setting.

The OECD is at the heart of international cooperation. Member countries work with other countries, organizations, and stakeholders worldwide to address the pressing policy challenges of the current times.

The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development is an intergovernmental economic organization with 38 member countries, founded in 1961 to stimulate economic progress and world trade.

The following countries are current OECD members:

 AUSTRALIA7 June 1971
 AUSTRIA29 September 1961
 BELGIUM13 September 1961
 CANADA10 April 1961
 CHILE7 May 2010
 COLOMBIA28 April 2020
 COSTA RICA25 May 2021
 CZECH REPUBLIC21 December 1995
 DENMARK30 May 1961
 ESTONIA9 December 2010
 FINLAND28 January 1969
 FRANCE7 August 1961
 GERMANY27 September 1961
 GREECE27 September 1961
 HUNGARY7 May 1996
 ICELAND5 June 1961
 IRELAND17 August 1961
 ISRAEL7 September 2010
 ITALY29 March 1962
 JAPAN28 April 1964
 KOREA12 December 1996
 LATVIA1 July 2016
 LITHUANIA5 July 2018
 LUXEMBOURG7 December 1961
 MEXICO18 May 1994
 NETHERLANDS13 November 1961
 NEW ZEALAND29 May 1973
 NORWAY4 July 1961
 POLAND22 November 1996
 PORTUGAL4 August 1961
 SLOVAK REPUBLIC14 December 2000
 SLOVENIA21 July 2010
 SPAIN3 August 1961
 SWEDEN28 September 1961
 SWITZERLAND28 September 1961
 TURKEY2 August 1961
 UNITED STATES12 April 1961

African Tourism Board Chairman Cuthbert Ncube posted to the organization WhatsApp group yesterday:

Good morning Colleagues. We pray we are all well by His Grace. We have noted with utter disappointment and disgust the move by Europe and others to isolate Africa. It has long been expected as we have always echoed the equalities that have been perpetuated for decades. If there was a time for all to unite, it is now, for Africa to put all our efforts together for the betterment of our communities and citizens.

Responses to this include phrases: Respect Mr. Chairman, we must rise and stand tall and defend our continent.

This was responded to by Professor Geoffrey Lipman of SunX in Brussels:

Dear friends from Africa: I suggest a need to approach this new Omicron reality with calm logic, not just understandable emotion.

There were reportedly 60 infected passengers on a KLM aircraft from Capetown to Amsterdam this week. The new strain may negate current vaccination protection. This is being tested and it is early days in that process. It is not out of any anti-African sentiment that authorities in Europe try to close the loophole. It is because it may be a deadly loophole in their basic citizen protection strategies.

Together we should lobby the International community (including the financial and insurance industries) for a mega Tourism Compensation Fund to cover this and future health-driven tourism threatening events.

Wolfgang Koening from Germany added:

And it is long overdue to drop the vaccine patents to give all Africans a chance to get vaccinated and to prevent new variants from emerging.

Kalo Africa Media from Nigeria posted:

Speak up against wrong labeling rather than thinking we don’t need to. We need to speak up!

Do you think he will keep mute and watch his country wrongly label[ed]? We are talking of the entire Southern African region. It’s not funny. Do you think China found it easy? In this case, there was no empirical evidence to determine the originality of OMICRON, but they concluded it was Africa. Do you think Botswana found it easy when it was first named Botswana variant? All of us need to speak up; it’s a collective attack against humanity.

An ATB member from Zambia posted:

There are no winners in the closing of borders. It’s a lose/lose situation for those closing borders and those affected by the closure. The progressive way forward is just to enforce and strengthen the current measures in place to deal with the transmission of COVID.

Faouzou Deme from Senegal added:

Hello: This pandemic is a cold war of the big industrialists and the great European and American powers in order to annihilate Africa for their own personal interests. It is up to us to reflect on and prepare a stimulus forum for African tourism (sub-region) on our mode of consumption of tourist products for locals in the digital sector and others. This is my personal proposition. What do you think?

President Cyril Ramaphosa of South Africa said yesterday:

For too long, African countries have trained their gaze on trade and investment opportunities in markets beyond the continent, such as Europe, Asia, and North America. It is time for the focus to be closer to home.

The World Tourism Network proposed:

Given that the Omicron strain of COVID-19 was identified by top research scientists in South Africa, and the country immediately notified the World Health Organization and the Global Health Council, using universally agreed-upon international procedures, it’s important to not give the impression that a country doing what is expected of them under an international agreement, means they should be labeled negatively as a country, and to not punish that country with isolation; and

Given that WHO officially stated that Travel Bans will not help to stop the spread of the virus; and

Given that despite this advice, the numerous OECD governments have unilaterally imposed such travel bans on the Southern African states.

Given that this has had a continuing measurable direct financial impact on the Travel & Tourism sector of these Southern African states and hence their socio-economic and development conditions,

The World Tourism Network calls on the responsible OECD states to establish an International Fund to compensate the Travel & Tourism sector of these African states, as verified by the African Development Bank, and to maintain such a fund at requisite levels until such bans are eliminated.

Unfortunately, what happened over the weekend, it looks like South Africa and Botswana were labeled.

In the meantime, we know the new strain was already in Belgium, Germany, the UK, Canada, and Hong Kong, and is on the go. Japan and Israel closed their borders to all foreigners. This is way beyond Southern Africa.

The fact that Africa does not have the means to get everyone vaccinated most likely contributed to new mutations of the virus. The World Tourism Network had called for new guidelines on how to travel with COVID-19 and keep borders and economies open.

This has had a continuing measurable direct financial impact on the Travel & Tourism sector of these Southern African states and hence their socio-economic and development conditions. 

Today, WTN received calls from African countries that should not have been affected by the new strain. A tour operator in Uganda told WTN they received mass cancellations from US travelers. It appears all of Africa is now labeled, and this will not stop here.

Petition click here

The World Tourism Network is calling for a Fund to be established by OECD States

The World Tourism Network is, therefore, calling for support for the Southern African Tourism sector directly affected due to measures by certain OECD states for a unilateral cessation of bilaterally agreed upon air services. 

WTN suggests for the African Tourism Board to address this issue with African Ministers of Tourism, with African Heads of State, with the EU, US, UK, and Japan.

The World Tourism Network will support a call to compensate the Travel & Tourism sector of these African states, as verified by the African Development Bank. WTN calls to maintain a Tourism Compensation Fund at requisite levels until such bans are eliminated.

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About the author

Juergen T Steinmetz

Juergen Thomas Steinmetz has continuously worked in the travel and tourism industry since he was a teenager in Germany (1977).
He founded eTurboNews in 1999 as the first online newsletter for the global travel tourism industry.

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