African travel and tourism sector in urgent need of support

The African travel and tourism sector contributes $169 billion to Africa’s economy combined, representing 7.1 per cent of the continent’s GDP.

Africa's travel and tourism sector needs support

Five international air transport and tourism bodies have launched an appeal to international financial institutions, country development partners and international donors to support Africa’s travel and tourism sector.

This sector employs approximately 24.6 million people on the African continent, but without urgent funding, the COVID-19 crisis could see a collapse of the sector in Africa.

The request is being made by IATA, the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) of the United Nations, the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC), the African Airlines Association (AFRAA) and the Airlines Association of Southern Africa (AASA).

“The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic is being felt across the whole tourism value chain. The sector and the millions of livelihoods it supports across the world, including vulnerable communities are particularly exposed. International financial support is key to ensuring that tourism can lead to wider economic and social recovery in these communities,” said UNWTO Secretary-General, Zurab Pololikashvili.

These organisations are calling on international financial institutions, country development partners and international donors to provide:

  • $10 billion in relief to support the travel and tourism industry and protect the livelihoods of those it supports directly and indirectly
  • Access to as much grant-type financing and cash flow assistance as possible
  • Financial measures that can help minimise disruptions to much-needed credit and liquidity for businesses
  • Ensuring that all funds flow down immediately to save the businesses that need them urgently, with minimal application processes and without impediment from normal lending considerations such as creditworthiness.

Some African governments are trying to provide targeted and temporary support for hard-hit sectors such as travel and tourism. However, many countries lack the necessary resources to help the industry and the livelihoods it supports through this crisis.

“Airlines are at the core of the travel and tourism value chain that has created quality jobs for 24.6 million people in Africa. Their livelihoods are at risk. Containing the pandemic is the top priority, but without a lifeline of funding to keep the sector alive, the economic devastation of COVID-19 could take Africa’s development back a decade or more,” said IATA’s Director-General and CEO, Alexandre de Juniac.

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