Africa lost $55bn in tourism revenues

African countries have lost almost $55 billion in travel and tourism revenues in three months due to the coronavirus pandemic, the African Union (AU) commissioner for infrastructure and energy said. 

Ms.Amani Abou-Zeid explained the economic impact of lockdowns and border closures to curb the spread of the COVID-19 would be severe, with the continent’s air industry hit particularly hard. 

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The Commissioner said tourism and travel represented almost 10% of the gross domestic product of Africa.

“We have 24 million African families whose livelihood is linked to travel and tourism,” Ms.Abou-Zeid added, underlining that the downturn had come in a year when Africa was expected to see an increase in travel and air transport. 

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“The blow is very hard, between the economic losses and the job losses,” Abou-Zeid said. African airlines have seen a 95% drop in revenues, or about $8 billion, along with other losses such as the deterioration of assets. 

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“Some airlines in the continent will not make it post-COVID-19,” she said, adding the blow came at a time when some airlines were in the early stages of development, while others, such as South African Airways, were in difficulties even before the pandemic. 

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Ms.Abou-Zeid said more resistant carriers such as Ethiopian Airlines were using the opportunity to acquire smaller struggling companies, but the outbreak had put a halt to the AU’s plan for a single African air transport market. 

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Prosper Zo’o Minto’o, regional director for the International Civil Aviation Organization, told the news conference that African airlines would need an estimated $20 billion to resume operations. 

Cote d’Ivoire national airline Air Cote d’Ivoire, which restarted domestic flights earlier on July 1, confirming it had received 14 billion CFA francs ($24 million) from the government to keep it afloat.

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