Recovery in tourism ? Think digital

PUBLISHED: Tue, 22 Sep 2020 09:30:13 GMT

The tourism economy has been heavily hit by the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, and measures introduced to contain its spread. Depending on the duration of the crisis, revised scenarios indicate that the potential shock could range between a 60-80% decline in the international tourism economy in Tourist Arrivals in South Africa increased to 62841 in June from 49481 in May of 2020, a positive outcome that portrayed a possibility to reset the tourism curve closer to pre COVID-19 outbreak. As has been an ongoing trend over the last four years, Travel and Tourism competitiveness continues to improve worldwide, and connectivity enabling—and enabled by—the industry remains on an upward path.

What measures are needed to build resilience and address the challenges confronting the sector pre and post COVID-19 such as sustainability, climate change, digitalisation, health crises and other external shocks and ensure local businesses and communities reap the benefits of this growth?

Tourism is a steadily growing and economically important sector globally and locally. It makes significant
contributions to job creation, export revenue, and domestic value added, and helps improve the attractiveness and well-being of places, not only as destinations to visit, but also to live, work and invest.

Tourism Trends in 2020 outlines digitalisation and sustainability to drive the industry post Covid-19.South African tourism recovery is dependent on funding for small medium enterprise and transformation.
Travel and Tourism industry has completely changed and we need to move forward, we mustn’t force to hold back, we must move forward and adapt to the digital innovation and platforms that are part of the future of tourism globally and South African economy.

The economic recovery in Tourism sector has an important role to play in placing the South African economy on a sustainable inclusive growth trajectory. Promoting growth and development of the tourism sector and Promoting the practice of responsible tourism for the benefit of South Africa and for the enjoyment of all its residents and foreign visitors, must be the responsibility of all South Africans
from promoting our cultural heritage, improving our local tourism, improving our hospitality to local and global tourists with an understanding that all our visitors play a critical role in boosting our GDP, Job Creation and Investment.

On average, The Travel and Tourism Sector directly contributes 4.4% of GDP, 6.9% of employment and 21.5% of service exports in OECD countries. It is of vital economic, social and cultural importance, and offers real prospects for sustainable and inclusive development; however, integrated and forward looking policies are needed to ensure this growth better delivers benefits for people, places and businesses. The Tourism Sector in South Africa, directly accounted for 2.8% of real gross domestic product (GDP) and The indirect contribution of the Tourism Sector to the economy’s GDP in 2018 was at 8.2%. Transformation is a hidden challenge in the South African tourism industry and pro broad based policies are needed to rebalance the sector to portray the South African diversity.

The future of tourism will be impacted by large-scale social, economic, political, environmental and technological changes, bringing new and often unseen challenges, threats and opportunities. These “megatrends” are slow to form, but once they have taken root, exercise a profound and lasting influence on human activities, processes and perceptions, including for tourism. Four megatrends are likely to have significant impacts and relevance for tourism: evolving visitor demand; sustainable tourism
growth; enabling technologies; and travel mobility.

The tourism sector and related industries are parts of the global economy set to be affected by a variety of megatrends. For instance, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) predicts that passenger demand over the next 20 years will be impacted by the emerging middle class in developing countries, diverging demographic outlooks, increasing liberalisation of aviation markets, and climate change (IATA, 2016). Based on feedback from member and partner countries, industry and international organisations, this chapter will explore similar trends, in relation to: Evolving visitor demand, Sustainable tourism
growth, Enabling technologies, Travel mobility.

When considering its likely evolution over the coming decades, it is clear that tourism will be transformed by large-scale social, economic, political, environmental and technological changes. While slow to form, once such “megatrends” have taken root, they exercise a profound and lasting influence on human activities, processes and perceptions. Megatrends bring new and often unseen challenges,threats and opportunities, the impacts which may vary between the economy as a whole and individual sectors.

It is critical for both governments and industry to explore and understand the multidimensional implications of these megatrends in order to inform policy and shape the future of tourism. An in-depth discussion of such trends will better enable policy makers to bring currently unforeseen and emerging issues onto the strategic policy agenda, develop potential scenarios and policy responses, and better
assist public and private actors to capitalise on opportunities and challenges as they arise.
Miyelani Mkhabela is a founder and CEO of Antswisa Transaction Advisory

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