FILE PHOTO Photographer: Phando Jikelo/African News Agency(ANA)

Tourism & travel is our livelihoods, says AU Commissioner

“Almost 55 billion dollars has been lost in Africa in past 3 months, in a year that we were suppose to see an increase in travel.

DURBAN – Almost 55 billion dollars has been lost in Africa in past 3 months, in a year that we were supposed to see an increase in travel, said  Dr Amani Abou-Zeid, Commissioner for Infrastructure and Energy at the African Union Commission.

The Commissioner was speaking during a World Health Organization (WHO) online press briefing, focused at the reopening of international borders.

“The blow has been very hard on the economy and the livelihoods of people, it has also put a strain on the environment and protection of wildlife. Tourism is a sector that permeates across so many sectors. For us in Africa tourism and travel is no luxury it is our livelihoods as well,” she said.

With most governments in Africa taking the decision to resume at a time when Covid-19 in the continent is almost at the half a million mark and 10 thousand fatalities. WHO Regional Director for Africa Dr Matshidiso Moeti said data should be used to determine how travelling happens.

“I think countries have had to phase in this dilemma of balancing the needs of controlling a pandemic with the needs of huge impact and economies. What is important is to use data to determine the degree to which travel can start and of course to guide the conditions under which this travel happens in order to minimise the risk,”

“I think it is possible to use data and information to guide some and manage the risk and when we start to see a flare-up that is unacceptable then we will have to reverse some of the decisions related to travel,” she said.

 Dr Abou-Zeid mentioned that the pandemic put a stop on the African Union’s initiative of establishing Africa’s single aircraft. 

“The hope is that seeing how things are unfolding during the pandemic, this could be an opportunity to strengthen our intra-Africa air transport and promote it even further, even trade. We are encouraging the lowering of visa fees and tickets.”

 

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