African Tourism Board response to COVID-19 spread in Africa
ATB: Look at Intra Africa and domestic travel
Coronavirus has arrived in Africa. As of today, African countries record 40 COVID-19 cases in
- Algeria: 17
- Egypt: 15
- Senegal: 4
- Tunisia: 1
- Cameroon: 1
- South Africa 1
- Togo 1
With limited medical resources, this is an alarming development for the African continent, even though the numbers are very small in comparison of population and in comparison with other countries.
The virus is known not to develop favorably in a warm climate, which is a good for Africa, but the virus once detected spreads rapidly if not kept under control.
With less sophisticated health facilities the danger for this virus to become lethal rises.
Keeping it under control is a major issue, and even developed countries like Germany, Italy or the U.S. were unable to do so.
Travel and Tourism is a major currency earner for Africa worth protecting. Protecting tourism cannot mean protecting business only for the short term, but it needs to be protected for the long run.
Allowing visitors from countries that have a case of Coronavirus may not always be a good long term tourism decision, but a risky short term move.
The African Tourism Board as a private NGO has issued a statement and their recommendation on how to handle tourism and Coronavirus in Africa.
ATB Chairman Cuthbert Ncube said: “ATB has received the news of the reported Corona Virus case in South Africa with great concern. We are equally concerned with small pockets of the virus in other African Countries. Our heartfelt concern is with the patient and his family, who must be going through a difficult period right now as the patient undergoes treatment, we wish him a full and speedy recovery”
“ATB is fully aware of the threat this poses on travel and tourism in the continent, and as an organization, we wholeheartedly commend the Efforts by Health authorities in reinforcing a preparedness plan”, added Mr Ncube.
“It is more critical than ever for Africa now to be well informed on how we can all play our part in stopping the spread of the virus so as to protect ourselves, our families and our nations. As an organization, ATB’s mandate is to promote Africa as a single tourism destination. We, therefore, call upon all the respective African governments to implement communications coordination plans to raise internal awareness of the virus and dispel incorrect news that may only foster fear and panic all around”, stressed Mr. Ncube.
ATB’s CMCO Juergen Steinmetz added: “African Tourism Board already negotiated an agreement with a new communication platform serving the travel and tourism industry and will be announcing details within the next 10 days.
The African Tourism Board teamed up with the rapid response system of Safer Tourism and is ready to offer assistance upon request.
“Africa as a destination must be protected, therefore I urge all fellow African governments and Tourism authorities to be prepared, be open and transparent in your efforts to contain and reduce the rapid spread of the virus within your respective borders because that is the only way we can all regain credibility as a continent once the Health Authorities find a permanent solution to this threat.
I would like to make a call to travel and tourism operators to be flexible with booking terms and conditions until we have greater clarity on the status quo. We should be empathetic towards all potential travelers’ concerns during this challenging time. Let us all as stakeholders in the travel and tourism industry diligently continue to update our citizens on the unfolding of the situation in Africa”, commented Mr. Ncube.
The African Tourism Board further recommends for African Travel Destinations to avoid taking risks and understand this virus threat spreads fast and borders alone may not stop it. It’s essential to be more safe than sorry, even if it means to temporarily stop all travel to and from source markets.
In the meantime, the push for domestic and intra-African travel may minimize the global health threat for the African Continent.
African Tourism Board is standing by to assist and participate whenever possible.
The African Tourism Board is a nonprofit organization with one goal only to bring African Tourism together.
More information: www.africantourismboard.com