Why countries will have to work together if industry wants tourism to recover
Dr Taleb Rifai, who is the former secretary-general of the UN World Tourism Organisation and currently the secretary-general of the World Tourism Forum Institute, said that the global travel industry will only return to a new norm when the whole world is ready to travel under a unified system.
Speaking at the Tourism Business Retention and Expansion (BR&E) webinar hosted in partnership with Tourism Investment Africa (TIA360) and Invest Durban, Dr Rifai said "in tourism, there was no competition between neighbours".
“Countries will have to work together if tourism is to recover – one country cannot insist on quarantine while its neighbour demands a vaccination passport and a third simply requires 72 hours testing before arrival or at entry points.
“We do not want to turn this into a political game of those who have and those that have not. We will all lose if we do so. Fewer numbers may travel to a non-vaccinated destination and no vaccinated destination would accept receiving anyone from a non-vaccinated destination. Travel is about connecting everybody, everywhere.
“Affordable testing in a harmonised way may be more logical for a faster and more immediate recovery. The trick is not to do a perfect job on your own; it is to agree on minimum procedures," he explained.
He said that domestic and regional tourism is one of the markets that has thrived during the pandemic.
Like in the case of Durban, a city in South Africa.
EThekwini Municipality Mayor Mxolisi Kaunda is upbeat about the prospects for recovery in the tourism sector in Durban.
He said that the sector’s road to recovery was evident during the Easter period this year as more than 45 000 visitors travelled to the city for their holiday.
“As a result of this influx of visitors, the hospitality industry saw hotel occupancy rates hovering above 60 percent, which was higher than forecast,” said Kaunda.
He stated that eThekwini’s economy received a boost over the Easter period, with direct spending at approximately R60 million and a GDP contribution of around R150m, and a total of 320 jobs created over this period.
Kaunda noted that the Durban wants to maintain this momentum through several interventions being expanded in eThekwini within the next few weeks. These include the partnership with the Durban Chamber of Commerce and Industry to attract investors and boost the tourism and business market.
“We have also embarked on a more targeted and aggressive marketing campaign to keep Durban top of mind to both investors and leisure travellers alike,” said Kaunda.