Why There Cannot Be Tourism Recovery And Sustainability Without Developing Human Resources
Capacity building to reskill and upskill featured prominently under Sustainability, Innovation and Collaboration themes of the Tourism recovery Summit.
As Ministers from African countries concluded the African Tourism Recovery Summit, it was apparent that developing human capital through capacity building programmes is fundamental.
Hon. Najib Balala, Cabinet Secretay, Kenya’s Ministry of Tourism and Wildlife identified Kenya Utalii College (KUC) as the centre for excellence in capacity building that will play a crucial role in training for tourism recovery and sustainability.
“We need to develop human capital. In Kenya, we have the Kenya Utalii College (KUC), the centre for excellence not only in Kenya but the whole of Africa too. We need to upscale human resources for the current and future needs of the industry. The Covid-19 pandemic has killed the skills in the industry, and we now need to look beyond Covid-19 for sustainability,” said Hon. Najib Balala, CS, Kenya’s Ministry of Tourism and Wildlife.
Some of the gaps identified, and where more emphasis is required in capacity building includes the aviation industry and customer service. It was also noted that more Africans need training in managerial positions as there are immense opportunities in higher paying jobs in tourism.
Capacity building was listed under the sustainability theme. The other two key themes identified are innovation and collaboration.
African countries were also called upon to leverage technology and partnerships to support capacity building accessibility under the innovation theme. Already, KUC has begun discussions on partnerships with Zambia, Ghana, Egypt and Botswana and technology has been identified as key in ensuring that all capacity building needs are achieved despite geographical and health barriers as a result of Covid-19.
“We need to use technology in various aspects of tourism industry including capacity building,” said Balala.
Under the innovation, the ministers were also called upon to identify new opportunities to develop technologies for tourism, increase resiliency of the tourism sector through novel solutions and models, and develop tools to enrich tourism products and experiences.
Without collaboration, it will be difficult to achieve tourism sustainability and resilience. The ministers were called upon to collaborate by integrating the continent, visiting each other’s countries and promoting each other.
One of the gaps identified is that Africa lacks a unified strategy and this plus a roadmap should be given priority if the continent is to move in one direction.
Through the Covid-19 pandemic, African countries have also learnt that domestic tourism is key to sustainability and resilience. “Domestic tourism is the way to go, and we can achieve our target numbers if we train our frontline staff on how to handle all guests,” said Dr. Ibrahim Mohammed Awal, Ghana’s Minister for Tourism, Arts and Culture. Dr Awal called upon African ministers to show leadership, create necessary security, infrastructure and enhance training.
On his part, Hon. Balala pointed out that Africa had failed to develop products and services for the domestic market by creating everything for the high-end category.
“The pricing is prohibitive. Our trained staff discriminate based on colour. If you are white, they serve you better. If you are black, they look at you not very well. That is what we need to retrain,” he said.
Covid-19 locked out the external market, and African countries have to support domestic tourism for growth and sustainability.
Tabitha Areba is a Communication and Marketing professional, currently working as a Communication and Marketing Manager at Kenya Utalii College.