Mbabane: As the country is working towards reviving the tourism industry which was one of the most affected industries by the COVID-19 pandemic, there are some indicators and promising developments which bring hope to the recovery of the sector.
While this seems like a heavy feat and far-fetched victory, current discourse surrounding economic reform and the future of travel seems to offer a glimmer of hope worth clinging onto as we work towards getting the travel and tourism industry back on its feet.
Like all industries that have been greatly dented by the COVID-19 pandemic the world over, the tourism sector will require radical recovery measures in order to thrive again.
An online article published by the BBC this week titled, “People Can Start Thinking about Foreign Travel” quotes the United Kingdom’s (UK) Transport Secretary, Grant Shapps who announces that foreign travel for the UK will resume on May 17.
For Eswatini, this is encouraging, especially with the UK being one of the country’s tourism source markets. This means that Eswatini can now start to anticipate more international tourists to visit the country and once again explore the unique traditional practices and rich cultural heritage.
The Easter holidays gave Eswatini a sneak peek into the current numbers of tourists who have already started visiting the country again as well as where they come from.
Data shoes that a majority of tourists, up to 81.3 percent came from the republic of South Africa, followed by Mozambique at 9.3percent, Zimbabwe at 2.9 percent, France 0.6 percent and the United Kingdom with 0.6percent as well.
These figure shows that Eswatini has started receiving increasing numbers of international tourist and this is one of the positive indicators of tourism recovery.
With the increasing number of international tourists it comes with the responsibility for the country to be ready to receive international tourists.
Minister of Tourism and Environmental Affairs, Honourable Moses Vilakati, in his virtual address during the International Tourism and Investment Conference (ITIC) and World Travel Market Africa (WTM) virtual summit said this means that the country must continue to strive towards achieving herd immunity by embracing and signing up for the vaccine.
“This is incredibly important as it is now the biggest determining factor in the countries that international travelers are adding to their bucket lists”. Vilakati said safety has now become one of the biggest motivators and attractions for tourists when planning their next travel destinations. Therefore, a vaccinated country that continues to adhere to health and safety measures as a means to curtail the spread of the coronavirus will earn the highest favor.
Speaking at the summit’s Ministerial Roundtable from the African continent, the Honourable Minister revealed that international tourist arrivals in Eswatini declined by 71% in 2020, reflecting an average monthly loss of E73,342 (70%) in comparison to 2019 figures.
The Honourable Minister referenced Eswatini’s receipt of the Safe Travels Stamp of Approval by the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) and the Safer Tourism Seal by the World Tourism Network as affirmation of the local tourism industry’s preparedness in responding responsibly to the coronavirus.
Vilakati went on to state that Domestic Tourism Development continues to be a high priority in Eswatini’s Market Re-entry Strategy.
Reflecting on the impact of local domestic tourism campaigns that were implemented in 2020, he further reported on the successes that these campaigns amassed. Daily visitations to tourism establishments increased by over 30% and the contribution to the tourism receipts increased by 25%.
Worth mentioning are his remarks on regional tourism and cooperative marketing which also forms part of Eswatini’s Market Re-entry Strategy. The Honourable Minister mentioned that Eswatini had partnered with neighboring South Africa and Mozambique to package tours between the three countries which will be achieved through the triland agreement signed by the three countries. The East3 Route is a joint marketing initiative aimed at marketing tourism and investment opportunities for the three countries.
This is yet another symbol of the promising developments in Eswatini’s and the region’s tourism recovery.
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