Photograph — Mail-Guardian

The African Union has hinted that tourism destinations in Africa have collectively lost $55 billion in travel and tourism revenue.

This was disclosed by the African Union (AU) commissioner for infrastructure and energy, Amani Abou-Zeid, last Thursday during a news conference.

Amani explained that the aviation industry is badly hit.  According to him, the ripple effect of lockdown measures adopted domestically and internationally, to combat coronavirus was a huge trigger for economic loss, as tourism generates about 10 percent of the GDP in Africa.

“We have 24 million African families whose livelihood is linked to travel and tourism,” Abou-Zeid said, adding the downturn had come in a year when Africa was expected to see an increase in travel and air transport.

Kenya has recorded a loss of $752 million since the outbreak of COVID-19, as disclosed by the Minister of Tourism, Najib Balala. 

Tourism is one of the leading sectors in Kenya’s economy that caters to revenue generation, last year the domain generated $1.54 billion, which had been expected to grow 1% in 2020.

Most of the revenue losses are traceable to bookings cancellation for the peak season months of July-October. 

South Africa’s tourism sector has reportedly lost an estimated R68bn in revenue, due to the pandemic. The decline in revenue comes with job losses.

Abou-Zeid emphasized that the pandemic recession is extensively felt between economic losses and job losses, as African airlines have seen a 95% drop in revenue, or about $8 billion, along with other losses such as the deterioration of assets.

“Some airlines in the continent will not make it post COVID-19,” she said, adding the turbulence came at a time when some airlines were in the formative stages of development, while others, such as South African Airways, were already in a difficult place before the pandemic.

The official air carrier of the country, South African Airways is seeking $1.2 billion to cushion debt repayment and commence operations after lifting off COVID-19 restrictions.  

Likewise, Ivory Coast’s national airline, Air Côte d’Ivoire, which resumed domestic flights last Friday, received $24 million from the government to keep it afloat.

It is projected that consumer spending on tourism, hospitality, and recreation in Africa, is set to reach about $261.77 billion in 2030, which is $137.87 billion more than in 2015.

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