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Africa’s Travel Indaba has been postponed. A future date for Indaba would be disclosed soon, said the Minister of Tourism, Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane.
Addressing media at a special ministerial briefing in Pretoria today, she highlighted that Indaba was one of the largest tourism marketing events on the African calendar. The Minister added that the risk associated with a large number of people gathering in one place had prompted the decision to cancel the event.
“We will review the decision, depending on how the situation evolves and, working in consultation with industry stakeholders, we will advise on future dates,” said Kubayi-Ngubane.
Meanwhile, industry leaders have called for calm and “responsible behaviour” following the ongoing announcements from government around mass gathering cancellations and travel bans imposed on foreign nationals.
“We have no doubt of the impact that this will have on the tourism sector, however, we are prepared to play our part,” said Tshifhiwa Tshivhengwa, CEO of TBCSA.
He said a meeting would be convened with key industry players to discuss post-coronavirus interventions, go-to market strategies to promote the country, and ensuring the overall sustainability of the tourism industry in South Africa.
“The travel restrictions implemented to contain the pandemic will inevitably result in a significant negative impact on our travel industry at all levels in the short to medium term,” said CEO of South African Tourism, Sisa Ntshona, adding that these restrictions would cause uncertainty, some disappointment and challenges for the tourism sector.
“But we, as partners in the tourism sector, need to act responsibly,” he added, highlighting that, as a nation and an industry, South Africa was putting the safety of its people first.
“We will emerge from this crisis as a strong resilient player in the global tourism market and will have the opportunity to once again celebrate our country as the home of humanity. The time will come when we can safely visit each other and welcome the world,” noted Ntshona.
CEO of industry association, SATSA, David Frost, agreed, commenting that, despite the uncertainty around the full global impact of the COVID-19 strain of the coronavirus, the tourism industry remained committed to responding proactively and would do everything it could to safeguard travellers and customers at this uncertain time.
“We face a difficult challenge as an industry to respond to this continuously evolving situation. Our only defence is to monitor the situation around the clock and put in place proactive measures and flexible policies to assist travellers, members and their customers, so that when the situation returns to some normality, South Africa is open for business and ready to welcome the world,” he said.