International air transport, tourism bodies appeal donors to support Africa’s Travel and Tourism sector


Five international air transport and tourism bodies have launched an appeal to international financial institutions, country development partners and international donors to support Africa’s Travel and Tourism sector which employs some 24.6 million people on the African continent. Without urgent funding, the COVID-19 crisis could see a collapse of the sector in Africa, taking with it millions of jobs. The sector contributes $169 billion to Africa’s economy combined, representing 7.1% of the continent’s GDP.
The request is being made by the International Air Transport Association (IATA), the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) of the United Nations, the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC), the African Airlines Association (AFRAA) and the Airlines Association of Southern Africa (AASA).
These organizations are jointly calling on international financial institutions, country development partners and international donors to support the African Travel and Tourism sector through these tough times by providing USD 10 billion in relief to support the Travel and Tourism industry and help protect the livelihoods of those it supports directly and indirectly; access to as much grant-type financing and cash flow assistance as possible to inject liquidity and provide targeted support to severely impacted countries; financial measures that can help minimize disruptions to much-needed credit and liquidity for businesses including the deferral of existing financial obligations or loan repayments; and ensuring that all funds flow down immediately to save the businesses that need them urgently, with minimal application processes and without impediment from normal lending considerations such as creditworthiness.
“The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic is being felt across the whole tourism value chain. The sector and the millions of livelihoods it supports across the world, including vulnerable communities are particularly exposed. International financial support is key to ensuring that tourism can lead to wider economic and social recovery in these communities,” said UNWTO Secretary-General, Zurab Pololikashvili.
Some African governments are trying to provide targeted and temporary support for hard-hit sectors such as Travel and Tourism. However, many countries lack the necessary resources to help the industry and the livelihoods it supports through this crisis.
“Airlines are at the core of the Travel and Tourism value chain that has created quality jobs for 24.6 million people in Africa. Their livelihoods are at risk. Containing the pandemic is the top priority. But without a lifeline of funding to keep the Travel and Tourism sector alive, the economic devastation of COVID-19 could take Africa’s development back a decade or more. Financial relief today is a critical investment in Africa’s post-pandemic future for millions of Africans,” said IATA’s Director-General and CEO, Alexandre de Juniac.
“The situation is now critical. Airlines, hotels, guesthouses, lodges, restaurants, meeting venues and related businesses face mounting losses. Typically, tourism is comprised of 80% of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). To preserve cash, many have already begun laying off or placing staff on unpaid leave,” a statement from IATA reads.
“The Travel and Tourism sector is in a fight for survival, with over 100 million jobs losses globally and nearly eight million in Africa alone due to the COVID-19 crisis. Travel and Tourism is the backbone of many economies across Africa and its collapse will lead to hundreds of millions of livelihoods being impacted and enormous financial pressure for years to come. Now, more than ever, it is vital that governments work together on a global coordinated approach towards a swift recovery and ongoing support for Travel and Tourism. It is critical that the most vulnerable communities receive international help. The speed and strength with which the international community comes together and responds through international financial institutions, country development partners and international donors will be paramount to provide support to the many millions of people whose livelihoods are heavily dependent on our sector,” added Gloria Guevara, WTTC President and CEO.
“Air transport and tourism industries are among the worst impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Air transport is critical for the economic development and integration of the African continent. As such, support to the airline industry will aid in a faster economic recovery. An end of operations by African airlines would trigger a host of serious financial consequences, while replacing the air service provided by the airlines would be a challenging and costly process. Urgent, immediate and consistent measures need to be taken for the survival and rebound of the industry,” said AFRAA Secretary-General, Abdérahmane Berthé.
“The impact of COVID-19 in Africa continues to be brutal. Air travel and tourism have essentially shut down. Now, more than ever, international countries need to come together to help those communities that are most vulnerable. The survival of our industry and its allied sectors has serious ramifications for Africa’s entire air transport system,” said AASA CEO, Chris Zweigenthal.