South Africa’s Minister of Tourism, Lindiwe Sisulu is pushing for the deepening of collaboration between aviation and tourism in order to build a robust and sustainable travel industry.
The Minister is also of the belief that such synergy is needed to help the industry recover quickly from the devasting effects of COVID-19 while ensuring seamless travel and movement of people within the Southern African region.
Sisulu made this known in her address at the 52nd Airlines Association of Southern Africa (AASA) Annual General Assembly in Kleinmond on October 14.
We need to ensure there is a vibrant collaboration between ourselves and we will continue to call on you and relevant partners to collaborate with us as we advocate for the re-establishment of the pre-Covid-19 route network and new routes connecting various markets as appropriate. This includes the domestic air capacity which has experienced particular volatility – and I need to emphasise this as the domestic market proved to be a vital moderating force during the worst of the pandemic period.
“It was this market that kick-started the initial recovery period and this was the case in the vast majority of destinations globally, with recovery levels fastest in countries with robust domestic tourism markets. I urge the airline industry to do more to better understand the needs of the domestic market so it can enhance its ability to cater for these needs in its offerings. This is a crucial strategic consideration for joint future” she said.
She added that such collaboration was also critical for the Southern African region to maintain its leadership in the travel and tourism space on the continent.
The Minister explained, “The recovery environment is also a highly competitive one, with all tourism regions contesting hard to reclaim their space in the global tourism economy. As South Africa, we are, however optimistic about the Destination’s tourism prospects and the ability of our aviation industry leaders and tourism stakeholders to work together and lead solutions to recover for mutual benefit.”
Sisulu expressed optimism that the outcome of the General Assembly would help stakeholders forge a new path to reignite the travel market.
“The 52nd AASA AGA provides us that opportunity as government, aviation industry leaders and stakeholders to get together with the singular purpose of designing and delivering the future that we dream of – Our African Dream. I am encouraged that the deliberations at this Assembly under this most apt theme will heighten the collective sense that our recovery journey can truly “lift-off” in the short term so that we can register even more positive indicators of regaining markets and having travellers travelling in their numbers to and within the region,” she stressed.