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South African Tourism excites West Africa travel trade with continental tourism regeneration

South African Tourism hosted the first ever Africa’s Travel and Tourism Summit, which took place from September 19 – 21, 2021.

The inaugural Africa Travel and Tourism Summit centered around the theme ‘Re-awakening Africa’ attracted all tourism players throughout the continent and the world to reflect on, revisit and rekindle the sector in a world still impacted by COVID-19. The hybrid event saw delegates from Durban, Johannesburg and Lagos, Nigeria attend the important tourism meet in-person and digitally.

Sthembiso Dlamini, acting CEO, South African Tourism, said Africa’s Travel and Tourism Summit was born from the need to create a property that will demonstrate and highlight the continent’s tenacity and holistic abilities. “It is needed to be a springboard to restart and rebuild the tourism sector amidst the COVID-19 pandemic through knowledge and partnerships.”

During the three-day event, trade partners shared insights and ideas towards collaborative efforts by African countries that can lead to the recovery and growth of the tourism sector. Some of the key topics discussed at the summit included reestablishing demand in the source markets, aviation, streamlining visas, tourist development, innovation, technology, and the health and safety obligations currently in the continent’s stand in a post-COVID-19 era. A highlight from the summit was the agreement that if Africa was to become a favoured destination, travellers would need to be guaranteed health and safety protocols in lieu of Covid-19 and that the combined African infrastructure, internet connectivity, basic water and electricity supply and roads must remain stable.

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The event also highlighted best practices for brand Africa, using the 2010 World Cup as a case study of how Africans can see more of their continent, thereby creating an enabling environment for Africans to visit other African countries.

It was widely acknowledged that for Africa’s tourism to thrive, its countries would need to ease border restrictions to each other and allow for free movement of goods and people, which since the establishment of the African Union in 1963, has been the dream for most political and business leaders on the continent to ease access across borders.

In her keynote address, Lindiwe Sisulu, South African Minister for Tourism, said that greater collaboration among tourism role-players is required and they would need to be flexible enough to adjust to the changing business landscape. “As we embark on new ways of doing business and hosting the peoples of the world, let’s draw lessons from the experiences of the pandemic and ensure that our business ways are more robust and agile for future sustainability. It is therefore important that we are aligned as a continent whilst reigniting the tourism industry. This is crucial to gain momentum within the sector, as it works towards an inclusive recovery.”.She also added that the summit affords Africa’s tourism leaders a platform to create solutions for Africa and contribute to global solutions for the industry in effort to awaken a new beginning for Africa

At the Lagos leg of the summit, Thekiso Rakolojane, hub head, South African Tourism, West Africa, welcomed various representatives to the ground-breaking initiative and expressed his excitement to see trade partners, stakeholders, and media to discuss how to engage and operate in the new normal and developments, adding that South African Tourism strategy talks about opening up regional travel as a key strategy that is going to open up tourism in the continent. According to Rakolojane, “the summit is really befitting, in line with the strategy, as we are now positioned to engage across the continent to look at ways and means of how to synergize, collaborate, whether it is through destination marketing, through airlines or brand activities that positions us as a continent to our various source markets”.

The Nigeria edition of Africa’s Travel & Tourism Summit drew over 130 participants from the travel trade, stakeholders and media.

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