Lobamba – African Tourism Board Executive, Chairman Cuthbert Ncube, said prior to the pandemic, Travel and Tourism had the highest contribution by sector to world service exports, representing US$ 2.9 trillion to the global GDP in 2019 and 300 million jobs across the globe, according to UNWTO estimates.
Moreover, up until the COVID-19 crisis, the tourism sector had been one of the fastest growing economic segments worldwide. Tourism represents about 8.5 percent of Africa’s GDP and employs around 24 million people. By 2019, there were over 1.5 billion tourists worldwide, and the travel and tourism sector had grown to almost too-big-to-fail proportions for many economies.
The COVID-19 pandemic, unprecedented in its scale, has put 100 to 120 million jobs at risk, many in micro, small, and medium-sized enterprises. Many of these jobs at risk are held by youth and women putting these marginalized groups at even greater economic risk. Today, international tourism exports account for seven percent of global trade in goods and services, or US$1.7 trillion in 2018 according to UNWTO estimates.
“At the onset of the pandemic, the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) estimated that this historic collapse in international travel could result in a loss of a US$ 910 billion to US$ 1.2 trillion in export revenues and 850 million to 1.1 billion international tourist arrivals. As a consequence, global foreign direct investment (FDI) also collapsed in 2020, falling 42% from US$1.5 trillion in 2019 to an estimated US $859 billion, according to the United Nations Commission on Trade and Development (UNCTAD).
“Nevertheless, the fall was not the same across regions, Africa recorded a 18 % decline (from US$45.37 billion in 2019 to an estimated US $37.20 billion in 2020) compared to minus 46 % in North America for example.) In light of these anticipated changes, a number of promising segments might be worth investing in, including domestic, regional and continental tourism since long-haul tourism is expected to take longer to recover. Winston Churchill famously said ‘Never let a good crisis go to waste’, he was right. The Pandemic may have brought a global crisis, but it also opened many doors of opportunity for Africa’s tourism sector.
As Africa, he said they were now beginning to see the potential of each of our mesmerizing destinations, especially if they market them as one. “We are beginning to see Africa as a Tourism Power House, that can compete with other regions around the world. African Tourism Board is a melting pot of member states who have come together, to bring this vision into reality. What has happened here today in Eswatini, under the gracious leadership of Hon. Moses Vilakati’s support, is testament to what true collaboration really is. Hon Vilakati, on behalf of ATB, we thank you and the government of Eswatini from the depths of our hearts. We are here because of your gracious hospitality.”
ESWATINI TO HOST AFRICAN TOURISM BOARD HEAD-OFFICE
Prime Minister Cleopas Dlamini has launched the Headquarters of the African Tourism Board (ATB) in the Kingdom of Eswatini.
The Secretariat will be Headquartered at the National Museum in Lobamba. The ATB is aimed at fostering intra and inter African tourism.
At launch, the PM said, “We welcome the organisation to the Kingdom of Eswatini and embrace its mandate to foster intra and inter African tourism-both for leisure and business; and to facilitate regulatory standards of trade and investment into African tourism. We are witnessing the fulfilment of one of the strategic objectives of the Eswatini tourism sector. The Kingdom of Eswatini has made great progress in this area as evidenced by the accolade attained in 2020 from world-leading travel authority, Lonely Planet, which hailed Eswatini as ‘one of the World’s Top 5 Destinations’. This affirmed the Kingdom’s regional, continental, and global appeal through its unique tourism offerings and world class travel experiences.”
He continued, “We are confident that the alignment and synergy between the ATB’s mandate and Eswatini tourism’s strategic objectives will continue to uphold tourism as a powerful catalyst for socio-economic growth in Africa and yield tangible positive results in communities throughout the continent.”
Sandile Magongo has been tasked with the responsibility to be the chief administration officer of ATB headquarters secretariat.
“This moment responsibilities requires that we are open 365 days in the year, this requires that we listen, attend and respond to every need that Africa and tourism demand as we know that our beautiful motherland and the continent of Africa has so much to offer in regards to tourism within the global space,” he said.
Magongo added that the Secretary and office of the tourism board can reassure all those across the continent that their new home will be kept safe, clean, ready and reflective of what the organisation demands and represent. It is also worth noting that they as an office cannot deliver without support and guidance.
“We cannot deliver without the vision we cannot deliver without financial support and most of all we cannot deliver without being regulated by the relevant international bodies globally. Without taking too much of your time we will like to thank you all for supporting us this far and want to express our heartfelt appreciation. We wish to thank you all in particular our chairman who has been restlessly making sure that the heartbeat of ATB continues to pound. I will have faulted gravely if I did not mention our visionary and leader the Honourable Minister of Tourism and Environmental Affairs Minister Moses Vilakati who has believed, trusted, guided and supported us like a true father.”
Magongo continued, “To our sponsor we would like to thank you for watering and fertilizing the seed ATB that will grow to be a fruit, please continue hold our hands as we nurture it to fruition. Last but not least is to thank and upload all our organizers some of whom are here and those who are not. We cannot forget the African Tourism Board Secretary and the support group from across Africa. This year is a proud moment where the office of the Secretariat for African Tourism Board is managed with dignity professionalism and accountability. We can assure you that we will be grounded and protect the project very jealously thank you.”
During the launch, Minister of Tourism Moses Vilakati was also awarded with the African Tourism Board Continental Tourism Award 2022 in recognition of his work in leading the local tourism industry.