From ATTA CEO – Chris Mears
Dear ATTA Members,
We are facing unprecedented challenges in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic with all walks of life affected by the spread of the virus. Measures we felt were out of the question a few days ago are now reality with movement being restricted, borders closing and flights being suspended around the globe. Naturally, these measures are heavily impacting the global travel and tourism industry along with the interconnected conservation and wildlife areas which are such integral parts of the African tourism offering.
On Wednesday we held an online board meeting to discuss the issues we are all facing and it was very encouraging to hear that the African trade appear to be pulling together more than other global regions.
From a UK & European perspective, with government travel restrictions in place globally, the EU Package Travel Regulations are causing many problems with tour operators being obliged to offer clients refunds for holidays that they are no longer able to take. These regulations were not designed for the situation we are currently sitting with and authorities in France and Italy have already temporarily eased these regulations. ABTA (The Association of British Travel Agents) here in UK has called for the government to relax these regulations and on behalf of our members we have joined this call. If you are in the UK then you can add your voice to this by writing to your local MP and to save your time, a template is available here.
Operators are reporting that many clients are taking the option to postpone their travels and we need everyone to encourage this and put flexible policies in place to allow it to happen. Everyone is going to want to get away once this crisis is behind us.
Looking forward, we still need to be able to engage as a community. While so far, we have not been able to meet at any of the global trade shows this year and with the key African events postponed till later on this year / early next year, it’s not looking likely that we will be able to do so for the foreseeable future. As such, we are going to be creating an online forum for members to be able to directly discuss topics, share ideas, share advice and to provide help in charting a course through the uncharted waters we sail.
We will also need to start looking towards recovery and as we are not able to travel for the time being we will be expanding on the ATTA® webinar programme and providing more times to host a live webinar. To compliment this we will be creating an online marketing library. All members will be given the opportunity to record a 15 minute presentation on their destination or product and this content will be hosted on the ATTA® website for future reference.
Once the world starts travelling again we will need to continue to work together to ensure that we retain value in the wonderful tourism offering we have on the African continent and I hope to be able to share with you some further information in this regard in due course.
With China beginning to emerge from lockdown, there is light at the end of the tunnel.
We are all in this together
Very best from all of us at ATTA HQ
CEO | ATTA® – African Travel and Tourism Association