World Travel Market (WTM) Africa will take place from April 6 to 8 despite coronavirus fears. Picture: World Travel Market Africa.
World Travel Market (WTM) Africa will take place from April 6 to 8 despite coronavirus fears. Picture: World Travel Market Africa.

World Travel Market Africa to go ahead despite looming coronavirus fears

By Staff reporter Time of article published Mar 6, 2020

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World Travel Market (WTM) Africa, the signature tourism event on Cape Town’s calendar, will go ahead as planned next month. 

The event will take place at the Cape Town International Convention Centre from April 6 to 8 April 2020. 

The subject of the event was discussed during a briefing session about the coronavirus attended by key Cape Town roleplayers, including City of Cape Town’s Mayoral Committee Member for Economic Opportunities and Asset Management Alderman James Vos and MEC for Health in Western Cape Dr Nomafrench Mbombo. 

Vos said that Reed Exhibitions Africa, who owns the WTM Africa, have communicated directly with all of their buyers. 

“Following the measures in place by the Western Cape Health Department and the South African government, all buyers apart from those countries with travel restrictions in place will be attending WTM Africa.

“The 2020 edition of WTM Africa is expected to generate $451-million worth of business over three days. The City of Cape Town is the host city for WTM and also partially funds the event precisely because of the economic benefits and spin-offs it brings.  

“According to Statistics South Africa, one in 22 employed people in South Africa work in the tourism industry, representing 4.5 percent of the total workforce in our country. 

"One in seven people relies on the sector for their livelihood. These statistics demonstrate why tourism is such an integral part of our economy and a key driver of income generation and jobs. 

"We must, therefore, work together as industry and government to ensure that our destination remains open for business and that travellers continue to select Cape Town – because we cannot afford declines in arrivals and tourism trade,” said Vos.

Cape Town Tourism CEO, Enver Duminy, said the organisation was pleased to hear that WTM Africa along with other signature events like the Cape Town Cycle Tour, the Cape Epic and Cape Town Carnival will continue to happen. 

“This demonstrates our resolve to grow the tourism economy while being mindful that we cannot become complacent with this virus. We encourage these events to not only promote good hygiene practices to visitors as a precautionary measure but also to encourage their staff to adopt healthy sanitation habits.

“We’re grateful to Alderman Vos for giving all stakeholders the platform that yesterday’s briefing provided. If we are to navigate this issue, we need to work closely together and ensure absolute alignment. This sector has proven to be resilient and will thus be able to bounce back from the impact of this global pandemic,” he added. 

Is Cape Town coronavirus ready? 

With the first case of coronavirus confirmed in KwaZulu-Natal, Cape Town tourism roleplayers were taking active steps to ensure that tourism does not suffer in its city. 

Vos said the tourism and hospitality sectors were vital to the economy of Cape Town. 

He said the knock-on effects of the virus spread were evident. 

“There is already a substantial drop in tourism and travel globally, and an expected drop of 10% from key source markets over the coming months,” he said. 

The Western Cape Health Department has confirmed that they are ready to prevent the spread of Covid-19 and to treat any cases if necessary. They have established a website so that residents can obtain official, verified information on Covid–19:

Cape Town International Airport has taken numerous steps to ensure the health and safety of the passengers and visitors through the airport. They are working closely with Port Health and the South African Civil Aviation Authority to effectively mitigate the risk. 

Cape Town Tourism CEO, Enver Duminy, said the city was busy preparing a toolkit for the local tourism industry who may have questions. 

“While health authorities will have the primary role should a tourist visiting Cape Town be diagnosed with Covid-19 while in the city, Cape Town Tourism will be on hand to assist with our Band-Aid programme.”

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