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The Kingdom of Eswatini

World Tourism Day 2022: II. Official Statements

To commemorate World Tourism Day 2022, several key delegates and personnel made statements both internationally and from Eswatini’s tourism sector. The statements are below.

Secretary General, United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNTWO)
Zurab Pololikashvili (Pictured Above)

World Tourism Day has always been a chance to come together and celebrate the many and varied accomplishments of our sector. For the best part of four decades, we celebrated tourism’s unparalleled growth – in size, in reach and in significance.

In 2022, we once again recognize the opportunities that tourism has brought – and continues to bring – people everywhere. However, this year especially we also recognize that we cannot go back to the old ways of working. We must Rethink Tourism.

As the world opens up again, we must learn the lessons of the pandemic and the associated pause in international travel. In exposing weaknesses, the crisis showed us where we can build more resilience. And in exposing inequalities, it also showed us where we can deliver more fairness.

The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, along with its 17 Sustainable Development Goals, remains our end goal. However, every part of the sector, from UNWTO and governments at the top down to destinations and small businesses at the bottom, must rethink how we get there. This will require restructuring business models so that they put people first. Tourism has always worked for young people, for women and for communities. But now it must truly work with them as well. We need new voices as well as new ideas if we are to transform our sector and build a better tourism for all.

Rethinking one of the world’s major economic sectors will not be easy. But we are already well on the way. Crisis has inspired and catalised creativity. And the pandemic accelerated the transformation of work, bringing both challenges as well as enormous opportunities to ensure even more people get to benefit from tourism’s restart. We are also making significant progress in making tourism a central driver of the green, the blue and the digital economies, ensuring growth does not come at the expense of people or planet.

We are only just getting started. The potential of tourism is enormous, and we have a shared responsibility to make sure it is fully realized. On World Tourism Day 2022, UNWTO calls on both tourism leaders and everyone at the base of the broad and diverse tourism pyramid to pause, reflect and rethink what we do and how we do it. The future of tourism starts today.

The Minister for Tourism & Environmental Affairs
MP Moses Vilakati

World Tourism Day is dedicated to magnifying and emphasising on the undisputed positive impact that tourism continues to make in the development of economies and the upliftment of communities the world over.

This is why Eswatini is proud to be joining the global community, once again, in celebrating World Tourism Day under this year’s theme, Rethinking Tourism, as declared by the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO).

Allow me to begin by unpacking how this theme manifests in the Kingdom of Eswatini.

Rethinking Tourism is an attitude, an instruction and a reminder to us all to continue investing in the growth of tourism through sheer innovation and strengthened collaboration.

It challenges us all to rethink, revise and reinvent our way of doing business within the sector. Rethinking Tourism invites us to apply the learnings of the past two years characterised by the COVID-19 pandemic in carving a successful and sustainable future for tourism.

You will agree with me that one of the biggest and most valuable lessons to come from these unprecedented times was the importance of collaboration. As a sector that empowers several industries through its diverse value chain ranging from transport and retail, to agriculture and entertainment, it is crucial that we unite in exploring ways of maintaining and further building on the world class tourism offerings that the Kingdom of Eswatini has been lauded for over the years.

We are at an exciting time in tourism as we witness and work towards the cautious reawakening of the sector. This week, the UNWTO World Tourism Barometer released a report indicating that international tourist arrivals almost tripled in January to July 2022, signifying a 172% growth compared to the same period of 2021.

This means the sector recovered almost 60% of pre-pandemic levels. The sturdy recovery demonstrates an encouraging increase in the demand for international travel as well as the easing or lifting of travel restrictions. This is proof that the world is ready to travel and that Eswatini is ready to welcome the world unreservedly.

This year, we have chosen to honour World Tourism Day with an intentional focus on the future which has translated into the youth forum that was held earlier today. We recognise that the future we want will not be achieved without the active involvement and empowerment of young people – our leaders of tomorrow.

As a sector that has been identified as a strategic pillar in Eswatini’s economic recovery strategy, we recognise that our new target to welcome 2 million visitors to Eswatini and generate E2 billion in tourism receipts annually by 2025, will not be achieved without the youth’s participation and creative contribution.

It is this spirit that has inspired the renewed focus on working with local tour operators in packaging Eswatini’s dynamic and diverse tourism offerings. Most tour operators in the country are young people who made the decision to serve their country by actively promoting it and unearthing its hidden gems for the domestic and regional market to enjoy.

This is why it has been imperative that they participate in the recent cooperative marketing initiatives that Eswatini has been a part of this year. These include the Mpumalanga Tourism Expo which took place this past weekend in Mbombela.

Eswatini’s tour operators also partook in the Triland excursion which took place last month. Triland is a tourism initiative between the Governments of Eswatini, Mozambique and Mpumalanga Province that seeks to promote joint cooperation on the positioning of Triland as a preferred tourism, trade and investment destination.

Tour operators toured the Eswatini, Mpumalanga and Mozambique route with the Eswatini Tourism Authority (ETA), Mpumalanga Tourism & Parks Agency (MTPA) as well as Mozambique’s tourism board, INATUR.

The results from this tour has been a host of Eswatini tour packages to the respective destinations designed and curated by Eswatini’s tour operators. We applaud their responsiveness and commitment to marketing the region to the world.

Additionally, we remain devoted to the development of community tourism facilities because they are powerful and tangible example of tourism’s socio-economic impact and ability to support the livelihoods of EmaSwati. Just yesterday, we hosted a community training session aimed at further capacitating managers of community tourism establishments with skills on corporate governance and business best practices.

In conclusion, I extend a warm invitation to the public and private sectors, to recognise and honour the role that we can each play in advancing Eswatini’s economy through the power of tourism. May I implore you all to join us as we rethink, reshape and recommit to the future of tourism in Eswatini for the benefit of EmaSwati and the delight of our visitors from around the world.

With these words, I thank you. May God bless us all.

The United Nations Resident Coordinator
Mr George Wachira

It is with great pleasure and honour that I join you to celebrate the World Tourism Day, which was also celebrated in many parts across the world yesterday, on the 27th of September.

I am humbled by the kind invitation extended to me by the Ministry of Tourism and Environmental Affairs and Eswatini Tourism Authority and I commend your efforts in leading the celebrations of this important event, which recognizes the importance of tourism in the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals.

Tourism is an essential pillar of the 2030 Agenda which is now less than 8 years. Indeed, tourism is expected to play a significant role in accelerating our joint efforts to achieve the SDGs in Eswatini. The livelihoods of many EmaSwati depend on it, especially vulnerable groups such as women and the youth who are most affected by unemployment.

Worldwide, tourism has evolved to become the most expansive and fastest growing sectors of our times, supporting the livelihood of 1 in 11 people and thus, holding immense socio-economic opportunities. Africa in particular holds an undeniable potential.

In our majestic Eswatini, tourism accounts for 2.8% of total GDP. Given the warm-nature of its people, low crime rates in comparison to neighbouring countries, spectacular landscapes and sceneries, venturesome game parks, numerous festivals and cultural richness, Eswatini prides itself as an exceptionally beautiful, exciting and safe tourist destination.

It is by no mistake that the Government of Eswatini, in its Strategic roadmap 2019-2022, singled out tourism as one of the five key growth sectors alongside Agriculture; Manufacturing & Agro-processing; Mining & Energy; as well as Education and ICT.

Unfortunately, the tourism industry was among the most affected sectors during the onslaught of the COVID-19 pandemic as almost all countries put lockdown measures in place and closed their borders, thereby effectively shutting down tourism activity. Hundreds of millions of jobs were lost around the world and many countries are now putting measures in place to recover from the impact of the pandemic.

As we may recall, young people, persons with disabilities and so many others who normally benefit from small seasonal jobs faced tremendous difficulties.  Many small and medium-sized enterprises — the engine of the global economy — did not survive.

The effects of massive unemployment and loss of income has eroded social cohesion and destabilized countries and regions — health-wise, socially, politically and economically.

At the same time, these challenges provide encouraging opportunities. I have been encouraged by theme for the World Tourism Day theme for this year, which is “Rethinking Tourism.” This theme seeks to inspire all us to find opportunities to reimagine the tourism industry in line with its positive contributions to prosperity, people and the planet.

With coordinated global, regional and national efforts we can build better and more resilient industries, including the tourism industry. By bringing people together, tourism can promote solidarity and trust, which are crucial ingredients to advance the global cooperation and solidarity that are so urgently needed at this critical time of great world distress.

With smart and timely action at all levels, and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development as our guide or compass, we can emerge from these crises stronger, with better tourism, better jobs and a brighter, more equal and greener future for all in Eswatini.

Investing in people and in the planet, boosting infrastructure development and shaping better policies and institutions are key to shaping Tourism.

I encourage all those involved in the tourism sector to explore how together we may recover better, including through climate action, job creation for youth and women and other steps that advance sustainability.

On our journey toward a better future, we must uphold our pledge to leave no one behind.

Today, let’s renew our commitment to the tourism sector in Eswatini while noting that together, we can achieve anything. Let’s begin conversations about the “The Tourism We Want.”

Happy World Tourism Day!

Secretary, Hospitality & Tourism Association of Eswatini (HOTAES)
Tegan Ward

As an association, we have been in the industry since 1975 representing the private sector and later partnering with the ETA. I have been working in the tourism industry for the last 5 years, but my family has been in the industry since the 1960s, with our own establishments, and with my grandfather – Mr Marcus Ward eventually becoming a senator.

In 2020 Eswatini was named one of the world’s top countries for travellers by renowned global travel agency, Lonely Planet. However, a study sponsored by the European Union and conducted by Africa Rise found that according to the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO), Eswatini is rated 118 out of 140 countries for Tourism, which suggests the need for rethinking.

I think it is also interesting to note that according to the UNWTO, Eswatini out of all the tourism aspects, has the worst rating for culture. Yet, this is what differentiates us from our neighbours – the purity of our cultural experiences, as well as the 24 natural tourist attractions this country has. These attractions and their competitiveness on price put us in competition with, not only our neighbours, but the rest of the world.

With all this in our favour and the noticeable shift from away from a one size fits all tourism package, Eswatini is perfectly placed to step up.

Thank you.


Further stories:

World Tourism Day 2022: I. Eswatini joins the global community in ‘Rethinking Tourism’
World Tourism Day 2022: III. Rethinking, reinvesting in community based tourism