Tourism Before & After the Pandemic: Sustainability Is The Way Forward

Event Africa Contributor 06/10/2021 Uncategorized

It’s no secret that the tourism industry has been heavily impacted by the pandemic. This year at the Magical Kenya Travel Expo, Destination Management & Tourism policy analyst Dr Carmen Nibigira moderated a power panel discussion between Tourvest CEO Martin Wiest and Dr David Chiawo of Strathmore University.

“We need to get back to a longer stay with better quality…and giving back more to the country,” said Wiest. The average stay in South Africa was 22 days 30 years ago, but has recently dropped to around 8 days, he said.

Dr Chiawo stated that the regional market had untapped potential and that prioritisation was imperative in tourism policy.

To shorten the recovery from Covid-19, we need to facilitate a higher rate of tourism growth in Africa, said Dr Chiawo.

Travelling going forward

Wiest highlighted that regardless of the state of vaccination at their destination, vaccinated travellers should be allowed to travel freely and without quarantines. There is an unfair stigma attached to countries with low vaccination rates, he said. Multi-country partnerships such as SADC in Southern African are important to help synchronise travel regulations.

According to Chiawo, in order to be sustainable, we must consider the local and regional tourism markets. “We also can’t talk about sustainability without talking about people; we need to make sure people are paid well and don’t rely on donations. Tourism happens by intent,” said Wiest.

Sustainable tourism entails ensuring that communities living in protected areas earn more from tourism than from unsustainable activities, he said.

We can also promote tourism “because it’s good for our communities,” Weist said, emphasising that tourism can help reduce youth unemployment.

“The tourism industry is experiencing a youth takeover,” added Chiawo. He emphasised the importance of better supporting youth employment and marketing to this consumer market.