Lindiwe Sisulu, South Africa Minister of Tourism has urged Africans to take COVID-19 vaccination seriously, to properly curtail the spread and ensure tourism activities across Africa are fully reorganised.
Sisulu made the call on the sideline of the 2021 Africa Travel and Tourism Summit held in Lagos with the theme: “Reawakening Africa”.
She said COVID-19 vaccination must be taken seriously to remove African countries from the red list of European countries.
According to her, the African Union has launched the Pan-African bio-surveillance technology called PanaBIOS that can track the spread of the Coronavirus and connect testing centres across the continent.
“Yet Africa as a whole is still considered a no-go zone, many of our nations are on the United Kingdom red list of countries to avoid travelling to.
“The United Kingdom itself has a little over 7 million cases. Removing African countries from the red list of European countries is a challenge we should embrace and work steadfastly to bring to an end.
“Reports have shown that tourism in countries with a high share of vaccinated people will rebound faster than in countries with a low share.
“The nature of the COVID-19 pandemic is that new variants are bound to develop as a natural evolution of the virus.
“This is why, while vaccination remains absolutely important, non-pharmaceutical interventions such as maintaining social distancing, keeping masks on, sanitising remains critical international tourism recovery.
“This will strongly depend on pandemic trajectories, travel restrictions and vaccine development,” she said.
Sisulu said latest statistics showed there had been just over eight million infections on the entire African continent, 33million fewer than the United States of America, 25 million fewer than India and 13 million fewer than Brazil.
She noted that nearly 76 million vaccinations have been administered throughout Africa.
According to her, South Africa alone had administered over 15 million vaccines and the country had shown a downward trend in terms of infection rates.
“In East Africa, reports show that low access to vaccines, slow vaccine rollouts and a potentially high cost of vaccination risk are holding back the recovery of the region’s economies.
“Yet, in spite of these concerns, the African Union has made great strides to ensure the vaccines are administered securely.
“The Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC) Consortium for COVID-19 is a knowledge hub that brings together vaccine developers.
“It also brought together vaccine funders, and African organisations that conduct clinical trials to collate information on the virus and act on their findings.
“So we need to take vaccination seriously to ensure African economy is not further tampered with,” she said.
The Minister said that it was quite important that Africans aligned as a continent to adopt measures to reignite the tourism industry, as this was crucial for building inclusive recovery.
“As we embark on new ways of doing business and hosting the peoples of the world, we need to draw lessons from the experiences of the pandemic and ensure that our businesses are more robust and agile for future sustainability,” she said.