IATA, UNWTO, AFRAA, Seek $10bn Relief for Travel, Tourism Sectors

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IATA

Chinedu Eze

Five international air transport and tourism bodies have launched an appeal to international financial institutions, country development partners and international donors to support Africa’s travel and tourism sectors with at least $10 billion relief.

They said the sectors employ about 24.6 million people on the African continent and may soon collapse if there is no rescue in sight.

The bodies said without urgent funding, the COVID-19 crisis could see a collapse of the sector in Africa, taking with it millions of jobs. The sector contributes $169 billion to Africa’s economy combined, representing 7.1 per cent of the continent’s GDP.

The request was made by the International Air Transport Association (IATA), the World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) of the United Nations, the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC), the African Airlines Association (AFRAA) and the Airlines Association of Southern Africa (AASA).

These organisations are jointly calling on international financial institutions, country development partners and international donors to support the African Travel and Tourism sector through these tough times by providing $10 billion in relief to support the travel and tourism industry and help protect the livelihoods of those it supports directly and indirectly.

Others include access to as much grant-type financing and cash flow assistance as possible to inject liquidity and provide targeted support to severely impacted countries; financial measures that can help minimise disruptions to much-needed credit and liquidity for businesses. This includes the deferral of existing financial obligations or loan repayments; and ensuring that all funds flow down immediately to save the businesses that need them urgently, with minimal application processes and without impediment from normal lending considerations such as creditworthiness.

Some African governments are trying to provide targeted and temporary support for hard-hit sectors such as Travel & Tourism. However, many countries lack the necessary resources to help the industry and the livelihoods it supports through this crisis.

The situation is now critical. Airlines, hotels, guesthouses, lodges, restaurants, meeting venues and related businesses face mounting losses. Typically, tourism is comprised of 80% of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). To preserve cash, many have already begun laying off or placing staff on unpaid leave.

“The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic is being felt across the whole tourism value chain. The sector and the millions of livelihoods it supports across the world, including vulnerable communities are particularly exposed. International financial support is key to ensuring that tourism can lead to wider economic and social recovery in these communities,” said UNWTO Secretary-General, Zurab Pololikashvili.

“Airlines are at the core of the Travel & Tourism value chain that has created quality jobs for 24.6 million people in Africa. Their livelihoods are at risk. Containing the pandemic is the top priority. But without a lifeline of funding to keep the Travel & Tourism sector alive, the economic devastation of COVID-19 could take Africa’s development back a decade or more. Financial relief today is a critical investment in Africa’s post-pandemic future for millions of Africans,” said IATA’s Director-General and CEO, Alexandre de Juniac.