As many countries around the world prepare to reopen in the Caribbean and Europe, African countries are also navigating around new health measures as a result of the COVID-19, or the novel coronavirus, pandemic. While many countries on the continent haven’t dealt with an overwhelming number of cases compared to the United States, the tourism industry has taken a heavy hit economically.
According to CNN Travel, The UN estimates that the pandemic will cost up to 2 million direct and indirect jobs in tourism on the continent with many countries reporting a steep loss in overall revenue with most relying heavily on international travelers. Popular destinations like South Africa have opted to push back their reopening date to early 2021 as the government has gradually started to open back up.
“It is expected that in South Africa, domestic tourism and business travel will lead the recovery followed by regional and international (long-haul) travel. We have noticed some global destinations are now assessing entering the regional phase of reopening through AirBridge/Travel Bubbles between regional countries,” said Thandiwe Mathibela, PR Manager of South African Tourism in a press statement released earlier this month.
“As more data becomes available and more safety & health measures being put in place in South Africa, the impact of COVID-19 on the country is being updated and refined. It is therefore extremely important to understand that changes do happen on a regular basis.”
Countries such as Uganda, Mauritius, and Seychelles have also announced they will not be opening as of yet with others like Morocco stating that they will be reopening for international travelers in July. For countries that rely on tourism from conservations like Uganda, they will be reopening parks for domestic tourism to stay afloat until the country is ready to reopen for international travelers.
“While Uganda does not have definite plans just yet for reopening borders, the country is participating in all international aviation meetings and is well represented on the COVID-19 International Taskforce,” said Lilly Ajarova, CEO of Uganda Tourism Board in an email statement to BLACK ENTERPRISE. Despite the borders being closed, the country still plans to open savannah parks and reserves for domestic tourists while enforcing new health measures.
Outside of countries, businesses within the sector across the continent have been suffering under the new travel restrictions like many to have to reduce salaries for their full-time employees in order to keep their jobs.
“The most affected are our staff who not only agreed to give up a large portion of the salary, but also have been at the frontline of this pandemic,” said Jacquie Muhati, Head of Corporate Social Responsibility and Partnerships for Kenya Airways to BLACK ENTERPRISE in an email interview.
“We have grounded all our scheduled services which would be 98% of the business. Most of our employees are at home as majority of our operations remain suspended with a significant number of staff either on leave or working from home. Only staff mainly in the operations and technical departments working onsite, as we take this time to conduct maintenance operations on our grounded aircraft.”