Countries must act with speed to curb the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic for the tourism industry to get back on track, says City of Tshwane Mayor, Randall Williams.

He was speaking during the city’s celebration of Africa Day in Pretoria.

Discussion on Victor Kgomoeswana’s book, Africa Bounces Back:

Tshwane celebrates Africa Day by promoting itself as a tourism destination.

Tourism continues to be one of the sectors hit the hardest by the COVID-19 pandemic as many countries had to limit movements. Borders were shut as countries introduced lockdowns in a bid to curb the spread of coronavirus.

The City of Tshwane has also been feeling the impact of lockdown.

The city says it hopes to promote the capital city’s business tourism, leisure offering and economic partnerships. It also intends to reignite the hosting of conferences and events that were crippled by COVID-19.

Mayor Randall Williams says the sooner measures to curb the spread of coronavirus are put in place, the better.

“So, we need to restart the tourism sector and the sooner we start with our vaccination programmes, the sooner we can have what they call safe channels where we can promote intra-Africa tourism because at the moment, intra-Africa tourism is very low. If you take us in comparison with Europe, we know we are close to Europe, we’re doing about 10% of what Europe is doing so there is a lot of improvement, room for improvement in the tourism sector.”

Tourism vehicle to revive economies in Africa

The Tanzanian Deputy High Commissioner to South Africa, Rosemary Chambe Jairo, says tourism can be a vehicle that can be used to revive economies of African countries.

“There is a whole value chain into tourism sector. Until a tourist reaches his destination, there are a lot of people in the travel industry, in the food industry and so on. My take to this is that it’s high time countries should come together and have universal requirements for COVID, so that it can bounce back into building our tourism sector,” she adds.

Director of Advisory Services at BDO South Africa, Lee-Anne Bac, says tourism is a massive opportunity for Africa, in unlocking economic opportunities especially post the pandemic.

However, Bac says there are measures that need to be put in place for tourism to reignite Africa’s economic growth. She says those include safety and political stability on the continent.

“The one is vaccinations. We need to have African people vaccinated. We need to have sufficient percentage of the population vaccinated. Tourism is only going to recover to the extent that Africans are vaccinated. The other thing that we need to do is we need to have air access. People need to get to Africa and they need to travel around Africa. So, we need to support airlines that are going to support travel in Africa. Without air access, we are going to hamper growth. We are going to hamper economic opportunities for Africans,” explains Bac.

Africa Day is celebrated every year on 25 May. It’s the day in which the first organisation uniting African countries, Organisation of Africa Unity, was established in 1963 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, with 32 signatory governments.

It has since become known as African Union since 2002.

11th Thabo Mbeki Africa Day Lecture in the video below: