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First Sub-Saharan Africa Tourism Acceleration programme launches

A new online acceleration programme has launched for the African tourism sector, aiming to digitize the industry.  

Developed by the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) in partnership with Google, the acceleration programme will be aimed at UNWTO Member States’ tourism minsiters, top travel assocations and tourism boards. 

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The acceleration programme aims to assist the tourism sector to develop innovative solutions and upscale their digital transformation skills. 

Natalia Bayona, UNWTO Director of Innovation, Digital Transformation and Investments expresses that they are committed to rejuvinating the tourism sector across the continent. 

“UNWTO is committed to helping Africa grow back stronger.With the right policies, training and management in place, innovation and technology have the potential to foster new and better jobs and business opportunities for tourism in Africa while improving the overall wellbeing and prosperity of the region.”

The lockdown period severely affected the tourism sector in South Africans, with many local and international tourism businesses closing down. According to reports by UNWTO, tourism represents 9% of the global trade for Africa and accounts for one in 10 jobs directly or indirectly. In addition, this report found that 54% of the tourism workforce is made up of women. 

As South Africa has entered level one lockdown and international and local travel restrictions have been eased, there is still uncertainty of the overall outcome for many of those employed in this sector. In president Cyril Ramaphosa’s most recent national addressed he expressed that tourism is an integral part of our economy, accounting for millions of jobs and overall revenue. 

It has however become critical that an adjustment towards digitisation is adopted in this sector as it will be an integral role player in the tourism industry adapting to the ‘new normal.’

The accelerator programme 

With the first UNWTO & Google Tourism Acceleration Program taking place today, the programme revealed key insights into the tourism sector in South Africa, Kenya and Nigeria. 

Google will be able to providing participants in the programme with valuable travel data insights and tools  which can assist tourism authorities in improving their business stratery and attracting more travellers. 

Doron Avni, Google’s Director of Government Affairs and Public Policy for Emerging Markets expressed that Google is committed to uplifting the African tourism sector. 

“We’re here to help the tourism sector rise up from this unprecedented crisis and emerge stronger.”

Insights into South Africa’s tourism sector

According to Google, Africa is home to 30% of the world’s population and as such Google Search is one of the places many locals visit when researching and booking their next travel trip. 

Googles most recent data analysis has shown that there has been an overall increase of 29% in Google Search for travel and accommodation in South Africa during August 2020.

This news bodes positively for the industry and could be an indicator that the tourism sector may soon see a revival over time. 

Further data indicated that the most highly in demand local or domestic destination for travellers is the Western Cape, with Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal following. 

Read more: Tech resource relief fund worth R25-million launched for SA tourism industry

Featured image: VisionPic .net via Pexels 

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