Global restrictions in travel harshly affect African nations

Published on : Wednesday, August 12, 2020

Global restrictions concerning travel have severely affected the African nations who depend largely on tourists and their hard currency to support the tourism industry employing millions of people in the continent.

National carriers in Mauritius, Kenya and Namibia ran into serious financial trouble with flights being grounded. In South Africa, listed hotel group, Sun International Ltd., announced that two of its casinos wouldn’t reopen after the country’s lockdown period ends. Kenya expects its number of flight passengers to decline by about 1.6 million and losses of around $511 million in hotel-room revenue if the pandemic goes on.

Travel and tourism contribute 10% or more for several African economies.
In 2019, travel and tourism contributed $168 billion to African economies, according to the World Travel and Tourism Council. Island nations including Mauritius and Seychelles depend a lot on travelers for revenue.

Several African economies without mineral resources and oil monetize their beaches and wildlife. Uganda and Rwanda are popular destinations for mountain gorilla trekking, while Mauritius, Seychelles and Comoros attract millions of tourists seeking seaside holidays. But now, spending by these visitors, which is an important source of revenue, has dried up since March. This year, less than 40 tourists arrived in Mauritius from April through June.

In 2019, the number of visitors to Mauritius was about 1.4 million. It was more than its population of 1.3 million people. However, this scenario changed when the Indian Ocean island nation imposed a lockdown from March 20. Tourist arrivals for April, May and June were almost zero.

Lockdown restrictions have also wiped out South Africa’s hospitality industry income. Income from accommodation declined 99% during the first full month of the lockdown, and is yet to recover. The crash in food-and-beverage sales eased somewhat in May with restaurants opening for delivery, but a renewed ban on the sale of alcohol might affect the industry.

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