COVID-19: Time To Rethink Intra African Travel And Tourism
The menace of Coronavirus (COVID-19) is still taking the world for a ride. The near devastating effect of the spread of the pandemic is causing fear and panic globally.
Viral diseases of such magnitude have occurred before with such mortifying effect. Flu, yellow fever, SARS, Ebola and others have all had their turns on mankind. The death toll they left in their trails were unimaginable.
The world has moved on since but suddenly COVID 19 has stepped into the fold, a situation that has left the world without cover.
VoyageAfriq's concern is with the African context. As the disease is yet to make any real impact on the continent, we submit that this is the time for Africans to perhaps look inward within themselves and deepen intra-travel.
This is the time to strengthen intra Africa relations through tourism and travel. While we don't advocate that people do not go outside of the continent, it just makes sense that as a sign of precaution, one wouldn't go to where one is much more likely to get in contact with the virus.
The strategy is to be smart and observe basic hygiene while moving around. Destinations in Africa should step up their marketing campaigns to attract more tourists from the continents.
Tourism and Travel trade shows in Africa should target more hosted buyers and media from within. It's likely most African countries might never record any case of the disease but vigilance should be critical in ensuring that it remains so.
In this regard, we applaud the initiative of the Rwandan government proactive measure of providing hand washing stations for citizens who are required to wash their hands before boarding public transport. We urge other African countries to follow this example to ensure that their citizens are safe.
So far the figures recorded of cases on the continent are seemingly insignificant compared to Asia, Europe and the Americas; this, however, does not mean we should throw caution to the wind.
As has been echoed by the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) World Health Organization, WHO and WTTC, Governments need not issue blanket travel bans but rather take measures based on what we know (facts and not fiction).
There is already panic in the market with the impact on aviation, travel and tourism sectors. Information flow should be seamless and we must ensure that it is not distorted to further compound the situation.
Again, Africa as a continent has recorded minimal cases; yet, the devastating effect is already being felt by hotels, tour operators, airlines and a lot of businesses within the tourism and travel value chain. It is however heartwarming to note that, key players are encouraging governments to make tourism part of their recovery plans.
As the world waits for vaccinations to be developed to inoculate people against the disease, we must continue to demonstrate the resilience of tourism in times like these.
PS: This article was first published as an editorial and released in the March issue of the VoyagesAfriq Travel Magazine on March 11 and some issues raised in the article may have changed especially with respect to the spread of covid-19