#UGANDA LEAVES TOURISM PLAYING FIELD TO NEIGHBOURS AND OTHER AFRICAN COMPETITORS
(Posted 18th August 2020)
While in East Africa Kenya, Tanzania and Rwanda have received WTTC’s stamp of approval for the safe resumption of tourism activities have other countries from across the continent also made the cut.
Among those are Egypt and Tunisia, two countries greatly affected by the Pandemic, parts of South Africa which has reported the most #COVID19 cases in Africa and also Mauritius, which active case load has shrunk to just two cases.
It is understood that Seychelles too is seeking certification to give tourists peace of mind and comfort that all the latest health and safety protocols have been implemented and are being observed.
Notable in East Africa is Uganda again absent from the list, just as the country stubbornly insists that the airport cannot be opened. Neighbours Rwanda and Kenya opened their airport for international passenger flights already on the 01st of August, Tanzania already back in July while Ethiopia never halted their scheduled passenger flights and Addis Ababa’s Bole International Airport remained open and operational throughout the Pandemic.
The anger and desperation among Uganda’s tourism industry stakeholders, business owners and personnel has grown and allegations are flying from all sides about profiteering with repatriation flights, going as far as suggesting that some airlines are given a very hard time to operate such flights.
The damage to the Ugandan hospitality, travel and aviation industry is already massive and unless a major policy shift is put into place and financial support measures extended to the affected companies could the extend of financial casualties among them simply decimate the number of operators.
Said Hon. Najib Balala, Kenya’s Cabinet Secretary for Tourism and Wildlife about the WTTC initiative:
Hon Najib Balala, EGH
“Tourism has become one of the most important economic industries in the world today with jobs generated by travel and tourism spread across the global economy. It has a forward and backward effect throughout the value chain, with direct and indirect interlinkages with other sectors such as agriculture, retail, manufacturing, telecommunications, building and construction, transportation, among others. It’s time that the world realizes that tourism is key as it’s not just about employment, but about survival and that’s why reopening while guided by coordinated and collaborative protocols, we not only save lives in terms of health but also livelihoods in terms of the economy. We commend the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) for their commitment, effort and strategic global leadership in designing and developing the WTTC’s global safety stamp and Safe Travels protocols. The protocols shall ensure that Tourism and Travel continue to globally impact the world populace livelihoods and sustain lives. Whilst Magical Kenya’s reputation as a top African tourist destination has always managed to place the country as a leader in the industry, our dedication to health, safety and security of our visitors, seamless experience and top-class service is paramount. As Magical Kenya, we are looking forward to welcome all guests and relive our magical moments. Feel safe to travel to a certified Magically Healthy Destination that have health and safety protocols endorsed by the WTTC safe travel stamp. Kenya, the Magic Awaits!”
Ms. Belise Kariza, Chief Tourism Officer at the Rwanda Development Board – which oversees the public sector’ tourism activities, also added her voice when she said:
“Rwanda’s number one priority is the health and well-being of visitors to our beautiful country. As one of only three countries in the world with endangered mountain gorillas and numerous other primate species, we also have a special responsibility to protect these magnificent animals. The creation of the WTTC Safe Travels global protocols and Stamp represent an important step in the reopening of tourism around the world and Rwanda is proud to adopt these global standards. We are excited to welcome tourists back to Rwanda for safe and memorable experiences – from seeing the Big 5 on safari and exploring Rwanda’s lush rainforests to learning about our vibrant culture.”
In other countries have tourism boards and private sector associations latched on to their country receiving this coveted certification and are enticing visitors, keen on health and safety measures, back to their shores. This avoids upon their return the dreaded quarantines as tourist source countries are keenly monitoring the situation in leading vacation destinations around the world.
Chris Nassetta, the WTTC Chairman and Hilton’s CEO and President, summed up the initiative when he said:
“We see green shoots of hope emerging as our global community turns its attention toward recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. But we know that travellers will only venture out into the world again when they feel it is safe to do so, making it critically important that we give them the confidence and peace of mind they need.
The global protocols WTTC has laid out are designed to align the travel and tourism industry around consistent health and safety guidelines that will help protect travellers wherever their journey takes them.”
Quo Vadis Uganda?