African countries have lost almost $55 billion in travel and tourism revenues in three months due to the coronavirus pandemic.
This was disclosed by Amani Abou-Zeid the African Union (AU) commissioner for infrastructure and energy earlier this month.
Speaking in a press conference that was broadcasted live on YouTube Amani Abou-Zeid said that the economic impact of lockdowns and border closures to curb the spread of the virus would be severe, with the continent’s air industry hit particularly hard.
She said tourism and travel represented almost 10% of the gross domestic product of Africa.
“We have 24 million African families whose livelihood is linked to travel and tourism,” Abou-Zeid said, adding the downturn had come in a year when Africa was expected to see an increase in travel and air transport.
“The blow is very hard, between the economic losses and the job losses,” Abou-Zeid said. African airlines have seen a 95% drop in revenues, or about $8 billion, along with other losses such as the deterioration of assets, she said.
“Some airlines in the continent will not make it post-COVID-19,” she said, adding the blow came at a time when some airlines were in the early stages of development, while others, such as South African Airways, were in difficulties even before the pandemic.
Abou-Zeid said more resistant carriers such as Ethiopian Airlines were using the opportunity to acquire smaller struggling companies, but the outbreak had put a halt to the AU’s plan for a single African air transport market.
Prosper Zo’o Minto’o, regional director for the International Civil Aviation Organization, told the news conference that African airlines would need an estimated $20 billion to resume operations.
Ivory Coast’s national airline Air Cote d’Ivoire, which restarted domestic flights on Friday, said it had received 14 billion CFA francs ($24 million) from the government to keep it afloat.
Meanwhile Eswatini has in the beginning of lockdown been reported by the Minister of Economic Planning Dr. Tambo Gina that it will lose about $420m due to the coronavirus pandemic.
“Eswatini will suffer an economic setback valued at US$420 million due to the persistent COVID-19 pandemic caused by Coronavirus. Gina said this amount of loss could be suffered if the situation goes on for a period of 12 months”. The minister said economists from his ministryalso made an analysis that loss to be suffered by businesses if the virus persists for eight months is around US$220 million.
The Minister of Commerce Industry and Trade, Senator Manqoba Khumalo also shared that the country’s tourism industry has already made a loss of US$14.7 million because visitors were no longer coming into the country as it is still on lockdown.
On the other hand Business Eswatini Chief Executive Officer (CEO) had reported that the hospitality sector needs E100 million to stay afloat.
He said the bailout package of E100 million would just keep them going as they are looking for a rescue package since currently, all the hotels were empty yet they still had to pay their rentals, mortgage and overheads.
Some of the players in the tourism industry had their employees on half pay they were now stating that they had no choice but to retrench because there was no money.
Also, the CEO of the Eswatini Tourism Authority (ETA), Linda Nxumalo, said the sector had submitted projected losses estimated to about E403 million based on the tourism receipts. Nxumalo said this was being dealt with as a preliminary analysis had been done by her entity. She said so far, assistance that was available to the sector was that set by government through the Eswatini National Provident Fund (ENPF) and that from the Eswatini Revenue Authority (SRA).