Will Africa’s tourists be back? Continent regears travel for post pandemic

Raino Bolz quickly diversified when his tourism business in South Africa’s winelands crashed to a halt in March because of the coronavirus pandemic. He sold a minibus — useless without tourists to ferry around — and bought a herd of pregnant cows.

He’ll have to wait for the cows to have calves and for the calves to be old enough to sell before he can make money from them. That probably won’t be until early next year, but it’s his insurance policy.

Bolz hopes to see a return of some tourists in November, the start of South Africa’s tourism season. If foreign visitors — 80% of his income — don’t arrive for end-of-year vacations, he’ll need the profit from his cattle to stay afloat.

Africa will lose between $53 billion and $120 billion in contributions to its GDP in 2020 because of the crash in tourism, the World Travel and Tourism Council estimates. Kenya expects at least a 60% drop in tourism revenue this year. South Africa a 75% drop. In South Africa, 1.2 million tourism-related jobs are already impacted, according to its Tourism Business Council. That’s not far off 10% of total jobs in Africa’s most developed economy and the total damage isn’t yet clear.

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