COVID-19 and the tourism industry – Neighbouring African Lock Down, what does it look like?
We have all, as South Africans, become accustomed to what lockdown means for us. Finally moving into the well-awaited stage 3 on the 1st of June. Some of the response to the novel COVID-19 on South Africa’s side has been commended.
The World Health Organisation’s Executive Director of the Health Emergencies Programme has stated that South Africa’s response “has been among the best in the world”. It was also noted by WHO that other African countries have handled this pandemic very well. As we are all very well versed in what South Africa is doing to combat COVID-19, it interesting to see what measures other countries are taking. Looking into our neighbouring Southern African Countries and what they are doing. Countries like Namibia, Zambia and Lesotho’s response.
While most countries are in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic, Namibia seems to be getting back on their feet as they have not been as harshly hit with COVID-19 cases. Like South Africa, Namibia will also be entering into a staged approach to ease the hard lockdown. This staged approach is slightly different to South Africa’s as there are time frames. Namibia has also taken a four staged approach, compared to South Africa’s five stages. As of the domestic flights are on the horizon for Namibia starting up again on the 6th of May, Ngtjiheue, C (2020). Although Namibia has managed to avoid a huge number of cases, there has still been damage to the economy, especially in the tourism sector. The Namibian Tourism board has stated that the situation that we are experiencing in the tourism industry “calls for a serious paradigm shift, where local tourism needs to be well marketed”. This approach will shift from trying to attract international tourists, to moving towards more local tourists.
Hard lockdown is something that Zambia as a country can simply not afford, this was reiterated by the Zambian government. This is due to most of the country being very poor and living “hand to mouth”. They have opted to rather enforce strict “stay at home” measures. Zambia, like Namibia, has not seen an influx of COVID-19 cases, there has been a tremendous impact on the economy. Travel and tourism were the fastest growing economic sector in 2018, for Zambia, ATTA (2019). Despite the Zambian borders being open, all tourist visas have been suspended until further notice. A development that has occurred in Zambia, is the opening of restaurants and gyms. The Zambian president stated that he had seen it inevitable to get back to normal operations. This includes the reopening of everything from cinemas to hotels and restaurants. This is an approach that not many if any countries have put in place so far since the outbreak occurred.
Lesotho was said to be one of 16 countries that do not have a single report of the COVID-19. This was until the 16th of May 2020, where the first case of COVID-19 has been reported in Lesotho, EWN (2020). As the government of Lesotho did enforce a lockdown period, it was eased on the 5th of May. This easing of “hard lockdown” has come with no new reports of the COVID-19 virus. Structures like businesses, state companies as well as public services and some education have been opened, Ralengau, M (2020). This is different to South Africa’s approach, which is only starting to slowly ease up now. While lockdown around the African countries looks different for everyone in terms of timing and the degree of restriction. The easing of the restrictions that have been set in place will eventually lift, wherever we are. Letting down these gates is going to open people up to the world again, placing new “experiences” very high on the “to-do” list for many people. While international travel will take a little bit longer to ease up, there is going to a “local is lekker” mindset. This mindset, especially in South Africa is going to help South Africans get their own tourism industries up and running again. Go4IT Africa is in the experience business and is going to pioneer tour operators and OTA’s, through technology, through this new territory.
Helping Tour Operations and OTA’s, help South Africans to experience our beautiful country again.