African Tourism Board Project Hope Launched
Ground-breaking tourism relief initiative
Project Hope maps out a general framework for economic growth and a recovery plan for countries in Africa leveraging the tourism sector. The project will also enable localization and adaptation of solutions according to each country’s specific needs.
“Tourism is an important economic sector for many countries, and the travel restrictions that have been imposed as a result of COVID-19 has meant that most, if not all, African countries have suffered a severe blow to their economies, ATB Chairman Mr. Cuthbert Ncube said.
“Project Hope has been initiated to embark on the journey to rebuild travel and tourism in Africa,” Ncube added.
This framework, once implemented, will put each country on an upward trajectory for economic recovery after COVID-19 has been a thing of the past.
In doing so, Project Hope aims to reposition the travel and tourism industry, the most affected and damaged sector by the COVID19 crises, as the leading economic force and for the good of all of Africa.
Speaking from African Tourism Board (ATB) Headquarters in Pretoria during the online launch, Mr. Ncube said: “We have coined it Project Hope for Africa indicating that we have chosen faith over fear, hope over despair, and we remain positive that tourism will recover to become stronger than before.
“The Project will include specific initiatives and activities that will restore confidence in travel into the African continent.”
These activities will require focused commitment and interventions from governments that will involve allocation of funds from each country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) towards Project Hope initiatives.
One of the fundamental ways the funds should be allocated is towards financial assistance to businesses, particularly SMEs in the travel and tourism sector in order to help them recover from the impact.
“The tourism sector depends on these businesses to facilitate the product offer; it is, therefore, imperative that governments extend the necessary support to help stakeholders have businesses to return to,” said Mr. Ncube.
The funds could also be directed towards putting up health and safety compliance infrastructures in place that will go a long away in reinforcing Africa’s readiness to resume safe travel.
Mr. Ncube also pointed out that COVID 19 has leveled the playing field for all tourism destinations, and as such, those that will emerge bigger and better are those that can be perceived as viable and safe for travel. This means Africa must engage in strategically-focused communications to showcase itself as such.
“The perceptions we build around Africa are more critical than ever now, and ATB through Project Hope plans to coordinate these collaborative efforts with the various tourism boards across Africa,” emphasized Mr. Ncube.
Emphasis has been laid on domestic tourism and regional travel that will also form a big part of Project Hope’s initiatives, especially while borders still remain closed.
The launching of Project Hope this week brought together leading personalities including ATB members, patrons, and tourism executives from Africa, Europe, the United States, Israel, and Asia to discuss future plans that would help development of African tourism during and after the COVID-19 pandemic.
Among the leaders and prominent personalities in the global tourism arena were Dr. Taleb Rifai, former Secretary General of the UNWTO and Patron of the ATB; Mr. Alain St.Ange, former Seychelles Minister for Tourism and ATB President; Dr. Walter Mzembi, former Minister for Tourism of the Republic of Zimbabwe; and Dr. Peter Tarlow from Safer Tourism and member of Rebuilding Travel.