The Minister for Tourism, Civil Aviation, Ports and Marine, Didier Dogley and the Principal Secretary for Tourism, Anne Lafortune participated in the 63rd Commission for Africa (CAF) Virtual meeting held on Monday 8th June 2020. The meeting, which was scheduled to take place in Seychelles, in March 2020 had to be postponed following the COVID-19 pandemic.
The main highlight of the meeting was the report of the UNWTO Secretary General, HE. Zurab Pololikashvili where he presented UNWTO initiatives and activities in response to the COVID-19 Outbreak. These initiatives include Monitoring of the impact, Policy Guidance and Coordination, Technical Assistance through introducing a COVID-19 Tourism Recovery package, Innovation, Investments and Digital Transformation, Education and Training, support for UNWTO Affiliate Members and Communication & Outreach.
The report of the Secretary General was followed by the intervention from the Minister of the host country, which was Seychelles. Minister Dogley made a 7 minutes presentation, where he spoke about the performance of tourism before COVID, its impact on the industry in the region and in Seychelles and the need for countries to focus on the opportunities that are emerging as we remove restrictions through innovation and collaboration at the national, regional and international level. He appealed to member states to apply a new perspective on tourism development and he used Seychelles as an example, where while we “gradually ease restrictions especially in regards to travelling, and we start focusing on resuming operations with robust planning, we strive to ensure that adequate measures are in place and that the safety of the Seychellois people and visitors are maintained. The Seychelles, as a safe tourism destination has produced guidelines and protocols which will aid in our efforts to recommence tourism activities throughout the country.
In giving his perspective on the outlook of tourism in the region; the Minister said “In this new landscape of tourism post COVID-19, the global tourism industry is likely to head towards quality-oriented tourism with special emphasis placed on wellness and nature based activities. Tourism industry operators need to show strong, creative and resilience skills so as to put in place innovative solutions to rebuild a sustainable tourism industry. Entrepreneurial ideas, for products and sales and in general for new business models based on customer demand and behavior will be key to help the sector mitigate the impact of the pandemic and kick start effective recovery efforts.
In closing he stressed to the participants that “In order to mitigate the current and future impact of this pandemic, the willingness and commitment of all member states is imperative to bring about tangible results. To emerge stronger after the COVID-19 crisis, members should continue to strengthen collaboration.”
The meeting provided the opportunity for Seychelles to learn about the impact of COVID-19 on the tourism sector of other African Member states and the key recommendations for a swift recovery process. Seychelles also contributed during the discussions on the top five key areas of UNWTO’s Agenda for Africa, a roadmap designed to guide the sector in sustainable growth up to 2030. These five priorities are: unlocking growth through investment and effective public-private partnerships; promoting innovation and technology; visa facilitation and enhanced connectivity, advocating for brand Africa and fostering greater resilience including through enhanced safety and security for tourists.
The 64th meeting of the Commission for Africa will take place in Cape Verde in 2021.