Ethiopia national festival, the Mesqel.
Millions of livelihoods that depend on global tourism are heaving a sigh of relief as some countries are lifting restrictions on air travel.
With the airlines ready to safely re-start global connectivity, countries are grappling with how to lure back visitors.
Wooing people to travel in this COVID era is not an easy task both for the airlines and tourism operators.
Many countries of the world whose mainstay is travel and tourism are looking for new ways to sustain these two industries post-Covid with its third wave.
Certain restrictions have been relaxed to welcome back foreign tourists, encourage domestic tourism with strict adherence to the COVID-19 protocols to ensure the health safety of their patrons.
In some African countries, many destinations are yet to open up but those who have opened up are looking forward to patronage, unfortunately, patronage is low.
In Ethiopia for instance, its once empty tourist sites are beginning to witness traffic, its yearly national festival called the Mesqel festival held Monday this week had few tourists in attendance.
The situation is not different in other African countries.
An Ethiopian tour guide, Thomas Yilma tells us the impact of the pandemic on tourism.
“Since March 12, 2020, the tourism declined, I used to be busy September, October is like the high season starting from now and January it continues until April but last year we don’t even have and even expect any now”.
Some Nigerian tour operators say, selling destinations since COVID has been difficult.
But post-COVID, they say, many people who have been locked in want to go out while few are reluctant to do so.
Mrs. Shalom Asuquo and Mr. Adebayo Ajaiye both tour operators said, tourists, traffic was yet to reach an appreciable state but people are beginning to move out because they were tired of staying in one place.
“Business travel has actually shrunk, travel has become very expensive, the cost of travel generally have actually increased because with all these destinations it requires some form of money”.
“People now want to travel, they are tired of staying in one place, they need that change of environment so, the airlines are enjoying that, we have people coming to Ethiopia now, we have people going to Zanzibar, Egypt, Morocco, I would say many people because of the lockdown, they just want to move”.
Passengers willing to travel are taking extra precautions to ensure travel dates are flexible and can be moved without penalty, book flight, accommodation reservations that are fully refundable to avoid stories that touch.
Also, they keep their eyes on infection rates, choose vacation destinations that are not major tourist attractions to avoid overcrowded spaces.
The Operations Manager of Karitfu resorts in Ethiopia, Mr. Yonaiel Belete says, what they had done to reawaken tourism was to partner with the airlines and put incentives in place to attract more tourists.
“As a destination, I feel like we are not very limited in what type of people would like to come here, it just depends on how we have marketed and the type of packaging that can come with a very strong unified discussion”.
Getting back to a situation where the freedom to travel is available to all despite the ongoing Covid vaccination may take a while as there is a challenge of managing the risk for travelers who do not have access to vaccination.
Reporting by Nosa Aituamen; Editing by Abdullahi Lamino