In an exclusive interview with Travel And Tour World, Kate Kenward, Managing Director of ATTA – African Travel and Tourism Association shares how African tourism industry has faced all the COVID-19 pandemic challenges and how this association is taking steps to promote African tourism in global hemisphere.
Travel And Tour World: How the travel, tourism and MICE industry is going in the midst of the devastation of COVID-19?
Kate Kenward: As we come out of Covid restrictions, there is a lot of pent-up demand for travel to Africa in both the leisure and corporate sectors. The travel organisers are busy rebooking those who postponed from 2020-21 and we have had reports of new bookings coming in as well.
Travel And Tour World: How much potential do you think for African Tourism in global travel market? Tell us elaborately.
Kate Kenward: This transition time from full-on Covid restrictions and no bookings, to the return of normal travel trading conditions as we know it is proving challenging across all sectors of the industry. Availability in some well-known destinations or at popular times of the year are already booked out due to the deferred bookings receiving first preference on new dates.
Already cash strapped travel organisers have to ensure they have enough staff to deal with their full workload once again while in some instances only with deposits as their income at present.
Consumers are understandably wary about the possibility of curtailments, and many are opting to book with financially protected travel organisers who will support them if things go awry. Travel organisers also have the latest information on destination protocols and entry requirements.
On the ground across Africa, suppliers are ready to welcome visitors again. They’re working closely with DMCs and travel organisers to ensure travellers feel safe and secure. The wide-open spaces and plethora of outdoor activities provided across Africa certainly help to reinforce that feeling.
Travel And Tour World: How African Travel & Tourism Association is working with tourism, aviation, hospitality and convention bureau to promote Africa as the most loved destination?
Kate Kenward: The start of in-person trade events such as the recent Africa’s Eden at Victoria Falls with a total of 70 top notch buyers from 23 countries and 103 exhibitors from the KAZA Region, show there certainly is an appetite to get back to business. Experience Africa Events, MD, Chris Mears attended this event and said the vibe was fantastic and that it was great to be back speaking to people in person again.
Travel And Tour World: In which travel events, you think for the promotion of Africa as a leisure and business tourism destination?
Kate Kenward: ATTA HQ are currently busy organising ATTA members’ attendance at other forthcoming trade events such as WTM Africa and the much-anticipated Indaba. ATTAs own hallmark event, Experience Africa, is set to take place at London’s Kia Oval from 22-24 June. Registrations have been steadily coming in from both buyers and sellers and the event is expected to be a sell-out.
Travel And Tour World: What can be done to strengthen human resources in local tourism sectors in African nations?
Kate Kenward: As more countries relax their Covid-19 restrictions, more travellers will start to return and suppliers on the ground will once again provide employment for their local communities.
Travel And Tour World: How African Travel & Tourism Association is working with government to make Africa Tourism best in the world?
Kate Kenward: We work closely with local travel and tourism organisations as well as government departments. Bringing people together to discuss issues and ideas is an important part of our work. Travel Associations in source markets are working hard with their governments to ensure proper contingency measures are in place for future variants. In the UK, the Save Future Travel Coalition, an amalgamation of the key tourism association representatives including ATTA, is asking government to make clear that any future measures or restrictions need to be evidenced backed, have a clear policy objective and an understanding of the consequences for the travel industry.
Travel And Tour World: What are your plans to restart African tourism industry in post COVID-19 era?
1. Provide the best platform for our members to conduct B2B transactions such as our trade events and workshops.
2.Undertake networking events such as conferences and virtual meetings for members to share experiences, issues and ideas.
3. Provide opportunities to gather research on the market to help members fine tune their business strategies
4. Operate training courses on destinations as well as personal development courses to help members grow their businesses and staff capacity
Travel And Tour World: In your opinion, how will the global travel and tourism industry evolve in the future years?
Kate Kenward: If there’s one thing that Covid-19 has taught us is that relationships are key in our industry, whether its B2B or B2C. Maintaining trust, transparency and integrity have certainly helped many companies hold onto their businesses during these past, difficult times. Being part of an association like ATTA has helped members by being part of a bigger voice on issues, fostering camaraderie in difficult times, sharing stories and experiences to help in the learning and healing process. The travel industry is never without incident and our ability to ‘just get on and make the best of it’ has helped many through the past two years and no doubt will continue in the years to come.