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DURBAN – The Deputy Minister of Tourism Fish Mahlalela says the success of Africaâs tourism sector in the midst of Covid-19 hinges on increased collaboration among all role players.
Mahlalela was speaking at Africaâs Travel and Tourism Summitâs SMME Day held simultaneously in Joburgâs Sandton Convention Centre and Durbanâs Inkosi Albert Luthuli ICC under the theme âRe-awakening Africaâ.
It is aimed at reviving Africaâs tourism industry, after more than a year of dormancy due to Covid-19.
Mahlalela said Covid-19 âhad disrupted the entire tourism value chain, including restricting the movement of people. For all of us to succeed, we can no longer do business in silos. The new tourism sector calls for greater collaboration between the government, private sector and governments of Africa.â
The department had implemented interventions to help revive small tourism businesses in townships and rural areas that were crucial to the sector. âSMMEs (small, medium and microenterprise) can aid in the sectorâs return to pre-Covid-19 performance levels and its long term sustainable growth trajectory that fully realises Africaâs vast, diverse tourism potentialâ.
The tourism sector recovery plan makes provision for the establishment of a support hub to provide non-financial support to tourism businesses.
Percy Koji, chief executive of the Small Tourism Enterprise Association (Stea), said collaboration between the private and public sectors was vital. âNo man is an island; no business can survive on its own,â Koji said.
The government should create an enabling environment to drive growth for small- and medium-sized businesses.
âPeople will have more jobs, resuscitate the sector and address issues around crime,â he said. Stea trains small businesses on the importance of compliance with regulations. Small- and medium-sized enterprises were recognised as a critical part of the tourism industry, he said, but they tended to be neglected.
âBig business will always be ahead while small businesses are not well prepared to compete against them. SMMEs still need training on tax matters as well as being compliant with relevant government regulations.â
SMMEs faced numerous challenges such as a tight cash flow, limited market access and lack of relevant business management skills.
He called for an increased focus on the domestic tourism market, to create opportunities within the countryâs borders. âDeveloping the local economy will create better opportunities for everyone. If you buy a coffee at a restaurant, you are creating a job for that person serving,â Koji concluded.