When will tourists return to Africa? Continent must guess

When will tourists return to Africa? Continent must guess

When will tourists return to Africa? Continent must guess

CAPE TOWN, South Africa — Raino Bolz quickly diversified when his tourism business in South Africa’s winelands crashed to a halt in March because of the coronavirus pandemic. He sold a minibus — useless without tourists to ferry around — and bought a herd of pregnant cows.

He’ll have to wait for the cows to have calves and for the calves to be old enough to sell before he can make money from them. That probably won’t be until early next year, but it’s his insurance policy.

Bolz hopes to see a return of some tourists in November, the start of South Africa’s tourism season. If foreign visitors — 80% of his income — don’t arrive for end-of-year vacations, he’ll need the profit from his cattle to stay afloat.

Africa will lose between $53 billion and $120 billion in contributions to its GDP in 2020 because of the crash in tourism, the World Travel and Tourism Council estimates. Kenya expects at least a 60% drop in tourism revenue this year. South Africa a 75% drop. In South Africa, 1.2 million tourism-related jobs are already impacted, according to its Tourism Business Council. That’s not far off 10% of total jobs in Africa’s most developed economy and the total damage isn’t yet clear.

“Devastation,” council CEO Tshifhiwa Tshivhengwa said.

South Africa’s borders, including virtually all international flights, have been closed for nearly six months and there are no signs of them reopening.

The COVID-19 restrictions have shuttered what was once the lucrative centerpiece of African tourism, the safari.

For nearly 40 years, Desert and Delta has sold luxury safaris in the wildlife-rich Okavango Delta in northern Botswana and their clients have always been a particular kind of tourist. From North America or Western Europe, wealthy, retired and almost always over 60 years old, said James Wilson, Desert and Delta’s marketing director. His fear — it’s felt across the safari lands of southern and East Africa — is that those retirees will be the last to come back because of their age and vulnerability to COVID-19.

Jillian Blackbeard sees a silver lining. She’s the CEO of a regional tourism association that represents safari operators in Botswana, Namibia, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

It’ll take southern Africa’s safari tourism three years to recover, Blackbeard said. But the virus could also kick-start a long overdue change. She said they’ve relied too much on that specific kind of client, white, elderly, North American or European. She’s pressing for the whole region to use the moment to diversify. To attract their own African tourists, who have been ignored. To look to Asia and its multi-generational travellers. And to appeal to Black Americans.

“For a long, long time, the African-American diaspora has never travelled to southern Africa,” she said. “It wasn’t that they didn’t want to come. It was because when you see a brochure it was always these white elderly people. COVID has allowed us to reach into that and say, ‘OK, how do we make our industry more resilient by diversifying our market?’”

No one is untouched. Sun International, a major player with a portfolio of casinos, resorts and high-end hotels in South Africa and several other African countries, has so far kept its 8,500 employees, although on reduced salaries. It can’t last. Sun International is now “having to consider quite severe restructures,” said Graham Wood, chief operating officer for hospitality.

One of Sun International’s landmark properties, the 5-star Table Bay Hotel on the Cape Town waterfront, has been closed for half the year in the absence of foreign visitors. Many hotels around it remain shut, too.

Wood does expect a bounce in domestic tourism at the end of the year from South Africans who aren’t going overseas. And domestic tourism got a boost last month when South Africa eased restrictions to allow interstate leisure travel for the first time since late March. But the international tourist season this year is “not going to materialize,” Wood said.

That’ll be ruinous for Bolz in nearby Stellenbosch, whose attempts to lure locals have yielded just “a drop in a bucket,” he said. “It’s not going to sustain us.”

His adventure tourism company combines hiking and cycling with wine-tasting tours in the mountain vineyards of Stellenbosch, near Cape Town, and epitomizes so many African tourism enterprises desperately missing their international visitors. He’s clinging to the theory that his foreign customers are innately adventurous and will come back sometime during the season. He’ll only really know early next year.

And he’ll only know then if he can re-employ all his tour guides, experts in wine and the ecosystems of the Stellenbosch mountains. One is working at a laundry, two are helping out at a charity running soup kitchens to feed people permanently laid off because of the pandemic.

Looking at the prospects for tourism, Bolz said: “We can only do proper business once international borders open again.”

___

http://apnews.com/VirusOutbreak and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak

Gerald Imray, The Associated Press

travel

 

Tour guides, Colin de Wet and Severiano Tamboer, who work for tour operator Raino Bolz, cross a river during an adventure e-bike tour, between Stellenboschon and the Boschendal Estate near, Cape Town South Africa, Friday Sept. 4, 2020. Africa’s tourism sector is struggling to cope with the drop in international travel caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. The World Travel and Tourism Council estimates the drop in travel caused by the COVID-19 pandemic will see Africa lose between $53 billion and $120 billion in contributions to its GDP in 2020. (AP Photo/Nardus Engelbrecht)

Tour guides, Colin de Wet and Severiano Tamboer, who work for tour operator Raino Bolz, cross a river during an adventure e-bike tour, between Stellenboschon and the Boschendal Estate near, Cape Town South Africa, Friday Sept. 4, 2020. Africa’s tourism sector is struggling to cope with the drop in international travel caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. The World Travel and Tourism Council estimates the drop in travel caused by the COVID-19 pandemic will see Africa lose between $53 billion and $120 billion in contributions to its GDP in 2020. (AP Photo/Nardus Engelbrecht)

Just Posted

RCMP looking for these two suspects
Police looking for suspects who stole truck in central Alberta

A Ford F350 was stolen out of Blackfalds on June 9. Two… Continue reading

An excavator is tearing up old parking lots at the Michener Centre north site. (Photo by LANA MICHELIN/Advocate staff).
Demolition gets underway at Michener Centre’s north site

Some people are nostaligic, but not everyone is sad to see it go

The Red Deer Indian Industrial school stood off Burnt Lake Trail and across the Red Deer River from Fort Normandeau. The residential school is known to have lost at least 70 students through illness, poor sanitation and nutrition. (Advocate file photo)
Some Indigenous leaders say SNC-Lavalin can’t make up to First Nations people with offer of help

Quebec company is connected to MP Jody Wilson-Raybould allegations

RCMP are looking for this 30-year-old missing woman.
Red Deer RCMP looking for missing woman

The Red Deer RCMP are asking for the public’s assistance to locate… Continue reading

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau participates in a plenary session at the G7 Summit in Carbis Bay, England on Friday June 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada donating 13M surplus COVID-19 vaccine doses to poor countries

Trudeau says the government will pay for 87 million shots to be distributed to poor countries

Winnipeg Blue Bombers quarterback Chris Streveler pushes away Hamilton Tiger-Cats' Cariel Brooks during the second half of the 107th Grey Cup in Calgary, Alta., Sunday, November 24, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Todd Korol
CFL board of governors votes unanimously to start 2021 season in August after meeting

The CFL says professional football will return to Canada in August. The… Continue reading

Boston Red Sox's Rafael Devers looks toward teammates while celebrating after his winning RBI-single in the bottom of the ninth inning of a baseball game against the Toronto Blue Jays at Fenway Park, Monday, June 14, 2021, in Boston. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)
Vlad Jr homers to tie it, Red Sox top Blue Jays in 9th, 2-1

BOSTON — Rafael Devers hit a line drive off the Green Monster… Continue reading

A health-care worker holds up a sign signalling she needs more COVID-19 vaccines at the 'hockey hub' mass vaccination facility at the CAA Centre during the COVID-19 pandemic in Brampton, Ont., on June 4, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Experts divided on easing COVID-19 rules for fully vaccinated adults

As provinces accelerate their efforts to get their populations fully vaccinated against… Continue reading

In this artist's sketch, Nathaniel Veltman makes a video court appearance in London, Ont., on June 10, 2021 as Justice of the Peace Robert Seneshen (top left) and lawyer Alayna Jay look on. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Alexandra Newbould
Terror charges laid against man accused in London attack against Muslim family

A vehicle attack against a Muslim family in southwestern Ontario that left… Continue reading

Deputy Prime Minister, not shown, and Minister of Finance Chrystia Freeland joins Prime Minister Justin Trudeau as they participate in a virtual discussion from Ottawa on Monday, May 3, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Liberals move to cut debate, force vote on bill to implement 2021 budget

OTTAWA — The Trudeau Liberals’ sweeping budget bill is moving faster to… Continue reading

The Pfizer-BioNtech COVID-19 vaccine is prepared at a vaccination clinic in Dartmouth, N.S. on Thursday, June 3, 2021. A new study in England suggests the Pfizer-BioNTech and Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccines are extremely good at keeping people from ending up in the hospital with COVID-19, even after just one dose. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan
Pfizer, AstraZeneca preventing hospitalizations from Delta variant in Britain

OTTAWA — A new study in England suggests even just one dose… Continue reading

Minister of Health Patty Hajdu arrives for a news conference on the COVID-19 pandemic in Ottawa on December 4, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang
Handing over Winnipeg lab documents has ‘national security’ implications: Hajdu

Documents related to the firing of two scientists from the high-security laboratory… Continue reading

General Dany Fortin looks on as Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Theresa Tam provides an update on the COVID-19 pandemic in Ottawa on Friday, Jan. 8, 2021. Fortin, who was removed from his post as the head of vaccine logistics last month, is alleging his dismissal involved political interference by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and two of his cabinet ministers. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Maj.-Gen. Dany Fortin files court challenge of his firing from vaccine rollout

OTTAWA — Maj.-Gen. Dany Fortin is asking for a judicial review of… Continue reading

Most Read