Slow African tourism blamed on lack of political will – SABC News

by MMC
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The slow pace of development in Africa, and particularly in the tourism sector, and in some regions the lack of development, are due to a lack of political will to bring about change. This is the view of CEO of the Tourism Business Council of South Africa, Tshifhiwa Tshivhengwa.

Tshikengwa did not accuse African leaders of all talk and no action at the Africa Tourism Leadership Forum currently being held in Gaborone, Botswana.

Hundreds of tourism stakeholders, including ministers, businessmen and tourism experts, have gathered since Tuesday at the Grand Palm Hotel in Botswana’s capital to discuss removing barriers in the sector to to enable and improve intra-African travel.

Tshikengwa says African leaders only have themselves to blame.

“The first document dates from 1988, the Yamoussoukro Declaration. I was nine years old. Then, this was followed by the Yamousoukrou Decision, in 1999. I was 20 years old then. Then there was the SAATM in 2018 and I was 39 years old then. Then we said that SATAAM is part of AU Agenda 2063 and by then I will be 84 years old.

“And that’s the problem, because year after year we talk about how we liberalize airspace in Africa to ensure that people can move more efficiently. There is no political will. The rules are always the same. The continent is still divided. Each country does what it wants, it has its own rules regarding bilateral agreements with whom it wants, he explains.

Upgraded Airline

One of the objectives of the 1999 Yamoussoukro Decision is to improve airline brands that will be able to compete favorably with stronger states or blocs of states outside the continent, as well as to promote cooperation between African carriers through partnerships, mergers and consortia.

The 2018 Single African Air Transport Market (SAATM), on the other hand, is one of the flagship projects of the AU Agenda 2063, aimed at ensuring that aviation plays a major role in connecting the Africa to achieve social, economic and political integration and stimulate intra-African trade.

To date, Africa accounts for less than 2% of global air transport, and flying within the continent is more expensive than flying from it, hampering intra-African travel, among other things.

Abel Yifru, Ethiopia Airlines regional director for South Africa, says high airfare prices need to be understood in context.

“If your taxes are high, airlines have to make a profit to keep their operations going… so if the cost base is relatively higher, that drives up prices. For example, the price of jet fuel in Africa is 12% above average, making it very difficult for an African airline to have competitive prices. The cost of insurance is higher here than globally. So it’s a question of cost.

Strategies

Lack of harmony between private sector business objectives and government policies has also been cited as one of the reasons holding back intra-African travel.

Tshikengwa did not hesitate to face this gap.

“We have to accept that they (the policies) were not put in place by extraterrestrials. They were put in place by us. So we often debate policy as if we don’t know what to do. We know what to do. We are the ones who put these policies in place and we should put in place policies that are more manageable and so on. The policy debate, too much of this, too much of that, we created this. No one came here to tell us we needed these policies. Let’s deal with it.

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