It hasn’t been too long since tourism, a sector rooted in the ultimate power of bringing people together was reeling from the effects of the dreadful coronavirus. And just when the world was beginning to see some light at the end of the tunnel came the Russian invasion of Ukraine to roll back the little progress made to get tourism back.
In Africa, the recovery was showing some good signs of recovery with shows and expos making glorious returns after a two-year hiatus.
The shows haven’t been the same as pre-pandemic events, but there is so much excitement and the industry pumping up for the big go.
As the continent’s tourism sector planned for the biggest leisure show on the motherland, Africa’s Travel Indaba – with less than a month to meet at the ICC in Durban, came the devastating news of floods sweeping key places in the province of Kwazulu Natal.
The catastrophe is beyond measure and has displaced and disrupted the lives of many in the province. This flood which hasn’t been seen since 1987 is threatening the survival of an entire province with cataleptic effects.
No matter how much devastating the situation seems, the tourism sector has a fine opportunity to show compassion to the people of KZN by attending this year’s Africa’s Travel Indaba physically and be part of recovery efforts.
Now isn’t the time to let skepticism take centre stage, but rather show greater solidarity to the beautiful and warm province ravaged by this torrential storm.
As the Acting CEO of South African Tourism succinctly puts it, “KwaZulu-Natal and the City of Durban and the tourism sector need us; they need our economic injection back into the city. By our physical presence, bringing our spend into the city, so that the businesses that have been affected can recover economically.
“The greatest tribute, the greatest solidarity, the greatest support we can demonstrate is not through our absence but through our increased presence. Showing the biggest, best and the most comprehensive Africa’s Travel Indaba is the biggest vote and a gesture of solidarity that we can actually show.”
The city of Durban within the province will host this year’s Africa’s Travel Indaba from May 2-5 and the CEO believes participants can rally around the event to demonstrate solidarity.
It’s time to once again, use tourism to affect society positively, and attending the show and helping in the communal activities will endear our sector to those affected by the floods and continue its envious attribute of standing with people in challenging times.
Many areas throughout the world are reliant on tourism and its role as a job provider and for stimulating local economies monetarily. When natural disasters strike, negative ramifications can be overwhelming, particularly to the destination image, but tourism has the ability to mitigate the impact.
Compassion has never been more important than in disaster situations such as this. It’s important the industry come together and let tourism leave deep imprints reviving the economy of KZN.