Durban - Ugu South Coast Tourism chief executive Phelisa Mangcu warned against any future plans to shut down the tourism sector as the Covid-19 wave is reportedly “on the rise”.
In an interview with the Daily News on Wednesday, Mangcu stressed that this year’s Africa Travel Indaba revealed how vulnerable the sector was as many players in the sector did not pitch compared to the previous years.
She stated that the impact of Covid-19 has been “quite painful” for many in the tourism sector, arguing that any move to close the economy would not be helpful.
“I have been participating in the Indaba for years, but personally, I feel that the two years of no business in the sector due to the Covid-19 regulations negatively impacted many people. There is very minimal in terms of spending, in the previous years, people would go out to buy into the idea of the Indaba and have their brands and products exhibited.
“This time around, people do not have money and the economy is not great, destinations and businesses are not exhibiting because they cannot afford it. One can only hope that as the economy improves many businesses will get back to their feet,” she said.
Mangcu said that although there was a plan to rebuild and recover, there was very little to be done if the economy continued to stall due to Covid-19.
Local and international buyers and exhibitors continued to interact at the Indaba, biggest travel expo on the continent, where stalls were set up for exhibition. The three-day event at the Inkosi Albert Luthuli Conventional Centre in Durban began on Tuesday with Minister of Tourism Lindiwe Sisulu officially opening the 2022 international event.
Sisulu said the event would help reignite the fire in the tourism industry, which had been closed for almost two years due to the economic downturn after the Covid-19 pandemic.
On Wednesday, South Africa Tourism acting CEO Themba Khumalo said over 19 000 meetings had been arranged at the conference for matchmaking between the right buyers and the right exhibitors.
Other business activities for the second day included a “Strengthening and Enabling Economic Capabilities” session, tourism awareness engagement and bilateral meetings between countries.
With more than 4 000 delegates expected to attend, over 539 buyers who travelled from countries across the world, and 126 “authentic and uniquely African products and experiences”, the Indaba is expected to generate about R 72.5 million in income for the city's economy.