NAIROBI, July 17 — African ministers met in Nairobi, capital of Kenya, Friday to discuss recovery strategies for the tourism sector which has been greatly affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The one-day African Tourism Recovery Summit brought together 16 African delegations to come up with a roadmap to ensure how the continent can safeguard the industry that provides millions of jobs in the continent.
In his opening remarks, Najib Balala, the cabinet secretary of the Kenyan Ministry of Tourism and Wildlife, urged African countries to prioritize the revival of the tourism sector due to its critical role in promoting inclusive economic growth. “We must work jointly to innovate and re-imagine ways to ensure the tourism industry remains afloat,” Balala said.
He observed that the continent has traditionally remained over-reliant on western nations as a source market for tourists. “We must promote travel within Africa as a first step to promote the resilience of the tourism sector,” Balala added. And the biggest driver for the recovery of the tourism sector in Africa is vaccination.
Nqobizitha Mangaliso Ndlovu, Zimbabwean minister of Environment, Tourism and Hospitality Industry, said that the promotion of domestic tourism can help the continent to reopen its tourism sector.
Ndlovu believed that easing travel requirements among African citizens in the continent will also help to spur the growth of the sector, calling for more direct flights among African countries as a strategy to boost tourist arrivals given the travel restrictions imposed on travel to Africa by the traditional source nations in the developed countries.
Ibrahim Mohammed Awal, Ghanaian minister of Tourism Arts and Culture, complained that the African continent has not been able to acquire COVID-19 vaccines despite having the cold chain distribution systems to handle the medicines. “The world will not be safe if Africa is not fully vaccinated because we are now a global village,” he added.
Martin Mugarra Bahinduka, Uganda’s minister of State for Tourism, Wildlife and Antiquities, said that the continent can rebuild its tourism sector through promoting intra-regional travel. He added that cross-border collaborations can help to tap Africa’s tourism potential given that some cultural heritage sites lie among common borders. (Xinhua)