Dreaming over, African & Caribbean nations welcome global tourists
World Insight with Tian Wei
At the World Conference on Tourism Cooperation and Development, one of the seven major forums at the China International Fair for Trade and Services, CIFTIS, Tian Wei met with five ambassadors from Africa and the Caribbean whose countries eagerly await tourists from China and the wider world.
The tourism and aviation industries were disproportionately impacted by the pandemic, and are just starting to resume normal operations. But COVID waves are still a concern. Many African countries that relied heavily on tourism for foreign revenue have made plans to reopen safely. Seychelles Ambassador to China, Anne Lafortune, says that her country’s motto for prospective tourists during the lockdowns in 2020 was “Dream now and experience later.” But now she says Seychelles has taken the necessary safety precautions so that tourists will wait no longer. She says all tourist accommodations must abide by the guidelines from the health authorities to host tourists. Seychelles also adopted a platform where travelers who enter the country must apply through the platform where they would verify their PCR tests. These policies are to ensure the safety of the Seychellois. Additionally, Seychelles has been making efforts to guarantee their country is safe for inbound tourists. She says, “Seychelles was the first country in Africa to adopt its national COVID-19 immunization system. So we have received Sinopharm vaccines from China. With that, we’re able to immunize 70% of our adult population.” This can guarantee that both visitors and locals can be safe interacting with each other.
Lafortune and the Ethiopian Ambassador to China, Teshome Toga Chanaka, have also explained that the past few years have been a time for developing sustainable tourism, whether it is achieved by preventing overfishing, over-tourism or even by shifting their target tourist demographic. Chanaka says that his nation is now catering their tourism industry to visitors from other African countries or even domestically, to mitigate the impact of overseas COVID travel restrictions.
South Africa has also recalibrated its tourism industry to not only accommodate tourists, but also to safeguard the livelihoods of independent business owners in that sector. South African Ambassador to China, Siyabonga Cyprian Cwele, says that South Africa established a fund to assist small tourist businesses to not collapse because of COVID. Likewise South Africa has also tried to stimulate international tourism demand by enacting visa waivers and E-Visas with an eye on Chinese and Indian tourists. Lastly they developed a smart platform to help foreign tourists arrange their itinerary.
African nations have been making every effort to not only re-open but to enhance their tourism experience for Chinese travelers. Mauritian Ambassador to China, Alain Wong, said it best, “Travelling is the best university in the world. In Mauritius, in the morning you can swim with dolphins. At noon you can sign a business contract. And in the afternoon you walk with lions or play golf.” These nations provide wonders and escapism that tourists crave after a couple taxing years. But most importantly they have strived to ensure that Chinese visitors will feel safe and at ease when they finally do come.