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Southern African Tourism Stakeholders to Get New Regional Disaster Risk Management and Crisis Communication Plan

The SADC Business Council Tourism Alliance has concluded the successful completion of a pilot project on tourism disaster risk management and crisis communication for the Southern African Development Community (SADC) region.

The two-day pilot train-the-trainer workshop, held in Johannesburg, South Africa, follows the development of a regional tourism disaster risk management and crisis communications strategy. Once approved, the training programme will be enhanced and rolled out across the region to localise the regional strategy.

Attending the training session were communication, risk management and tourism officials from 11 SADC member states with the necessary skills and knowledge to effectively manage and communicate during crises, specifically focusing on the tourism sector.

“This pilot project is a crucial step towards building a more resilient and prepared tourism industry in the SADC region,” says Natalia Rosa, Project Lead, SADC Business Council Tourism Alliance. “By equipping officials with the tools and strategies they need to effectively manage and communicate during crises, we can minimise the negative impacts of disasters on our tourism sector and ensure a faster recovery.”

The workshop covered a wide range of topics, including:

  • Sub-strategies for mitigating, preparing, responding, and recovering from disasters that affect the tourism sector in the SADC region.
  • Communication strategies and modalities for disaster risk management in the tourism sector within the SADC region.
  • Institutional coordination arrangements and definition of roles in managing disaster risk communications in the tourism sector.

The workshop was met with positive feedback from participants.

“This workshop was a valuable learning experience,” said Lova Ratovomalala, Executive Director Confédération du Tourisme de Madagascar. “It allowed us to gain essential knowledge in crisis management for tourism and brought us closer together as a community. Unity is strength, and this collaborative approach is essential for building resilience in our region.”

eSwatini Tourism Marketing Officer, Chunky Sibonakaliso Mdluli, said the workshop was informative and packed with nuggets on what the organisation needs for drafting a crisis communications strategy. “Great seminars inspire greatness in the hearts of the attendees and our facilitator was interactive and impacted greatly knowledge on strategy formulation, implementation and evaluation.”

Memory Momba Kamthunzi, Executive Director of the Malawi Tourism Council, reflected on the workshop, stating, “The workshop provided comprehensive experience in managing crises, whether natural or manmade, within the tourism sector. It established a platform for sharing crisis management information among member states. Additionally, the workshop addressed effective communication strategies during crises and stressed the importance of public-private sector cooperation.

Participants gained practical tools to safeguard the tourism sector and recognized the need to include tourism in national disaster management plans. Active involvement in disaster planning committees was highlighted as crucial. The training programme is expected to serve as a model for other regions.”

For the roll out, the SADC Business Council Tourism Alliance is committed to working with the SADC Secretariat and other stakeholders to roll out this programme across the Southern Africa region. The successful completion of this pilot project is a testament to the importance of collaboration between the public and private sectors in building a more resilient and sustainable tourism industry in Southern Africa.

“A proactive disaster risk management and crisis communication strategy is vital for the SADC region. Tourism is a significant economic pillar for many of our member states. This strategy, and the accompanying training, ensure we don’t simply react to disasters but actively work to anticipate risks, protect our industry, and communicate effectively when crises occur. This pilot project represents a significant step towards a more resilient and sustainable tourism sector for our region,” Moreri Mabote, Senior Tourism Programme Officer – Tourism, SADC Secretariat, concluded.

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