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TOURISM CEO LEADS INSPECTION OF RAVAGED INDUSTRY

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MBABANE - Talk about defying odds and leading by example. Eswatini Tourism Authority CEO Linda Nxumalo was part of a team that kicked off face-to-face interactions with the industry players, going around surveying and seeing individual establishments, talking to owners and staff. Tourism is one of the hardest industries following the enforcement of lockdowns globally to curtail the spread of the novel coronavirus.


Days after concluding a rapid survey on the industry, ETA and its partners took it a step further on Friday, visiting establishments and hotels that included Sibane and Royal Villas in Ezulwini as well as Veki’s Guest House in Mbabane.


Gain


What was supposed to be a normal annual survey was taken to a different level when top management including CEO Nxumalo and Head of Marketing Siboniso Madlopha went out in the field to gain deeper understanding of the current situation.  Observers dubbed this as a nice example of an authority getting closer to the industry they serve and a positive outcome of COVID-19 closing the gap between public and private sectors.


“We are starting from ground zero, so I have to understand the exact situation on the ground because a lot has changed,” said Nxumalo in response to a question of defying odds to personally assess the situation. She was interviewed after her stop at Sibane Hotel.


Briefing the media, Nxumalo said an economic recovery strategy was in place to bounce back from the pandemic but a breakdown would be done by government through the Tourism Ministry at the right time.


Exporter


Nxumalo stressed on embracing domestic tourism, highlighting that the country was a net exporter when it came to visiting places, as South Africa was still attracting more emaSwati. 


“Through the interactions, we are having a clear picture of how the industry has been affected. We have four groups that include the research unit.
“The hotel industry has also been hard hit, as it is sustained by international guests,” she said. Nxumalo thanked government for not closing the industry, stressing that being a COVID-19 compliant country remained top priority.


Media


Madlopha, on the other hand, announced interesting initiatives that would be unpacked in all media platforms in due course. They include the #SelfieEswatini campaign, where people can take a picture of themselves at a local establishment and share the experience with the rest of the world. There would be rewards for those who excel in this category.


Meanwhile, Ndumiso Gule, who is Human Resources Officer at Sibane, appreciated the surprise visit, lamenting the damage caused by the pandemic. He said most of their staff members were at home but the hotel was now selling takeaways to survive.

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