The sector of travel and tourism is one of the most important in the world’s economy, contributing much to the global GDP and millions of jobs worldwide. The COVID-19 pandemic has eliminated thousands of tourism jobs since its inception in small, micro-, and medium-enterprises. Travel and booking companies faced liquidation, restaurants closed and retrenched staff, and flora and fauna attractions faced dereliction due to lockdown and the hampered transport sector. Even worse, the lockdowns and COVID stripped us of the very things that made us proud to belong to Africa: our heritage.
Tourism-dependent countries in Africa have felt the wrath of these changes and their negative impact and will take longer than other economies to build again post-pandemic. While it may take a while to rebuild the tourism industry, the World Tourism Organization in the United Nations has put in place guidelines and necessary protocols to make people feel comfortable with travelling again.
In the meantime, the key focus is local destinations in need of re-establishment. And this includes natural landscapes, local restaurants, markets and entertainment events. Let us use Gauteng, South Africa as an example, according to content creator Zimasa “Gcaga” Vabaza, the Gauteng tourism department has targeted to bring in R11 Billion into the tourism economy by March next year, this will be done by stimulating the tourism sector as a whole and major events are a key part of that. This fiscal year alone, the province has generated R3 Billion.
Delicious Festival, a proudly Gauteng event is one of the event properties to receive provincial support in order to stimulate the rebirth of the sector as a whole, contributing to employment opportunities pre, during and now post the event. With respect to SMME development, 10 Gauteng township-based food and beverage businesses were given access to the market at the festival through Gauteng tourism including but not limited to Cookout Sunday, Soweto Kota Fest and Sharpville Food Festival.
The road to recovery for tourism and travel will require innovation. And while we’re still building, perhaps this is the time to add to our already-rich African heritage by operating under the law of creating opportunities from our easing state of crisis. A splendid world tourism day to you all