SADC Rolls Out New Disaster Risk Management and Crisis Communication Plan

Johannesburg, 5 March 2024 – The Southern African Development Community (SADC) region is taking a significant leap forward in enhancing the resilience of its tourism sector. The SADC Business Council Tourism Alliance recently announced the completion of a pivotal pilot project focusing on tourism disaster risk management and crisis communication. This initiative, rooted in a comprehensive two-day workshop held in Johannesburg, South Africa, marks a foundational step towards mitigating the impacts of disasters on the tourism industry.

The workshop welcomed communication, risk management, and tourism officials from 11 SADC member states, equipping them with crucial skills and knowledge for effective crisis management and communication within the tourism sector. The training program, once approved, is set to be expanded and implemented across the region, aiming to localize the developed regional strategy to the specific needs and challenges of each member state.

Natalia Rosa, Project Lead at the SADC Business Council Tourism Alliance, highlighted the project’s significance. “This initiative is about more than just preparation; it’s about building a tourism industry that can withstand and recover from crises swiftly,” she said. The workshop covered a broad spectrum of strategies, including mitigation, preparation, response, and recovery from disasters, emphasizing the importance of communication strategies, institutional coordination, and defining roles within disaster risk management for the tourism sector.

Participants expressed overwhelming positive feedback. Lova Ratovomalala, Executive Director of the Confédération du Tourisme de Madagascar, praised the workshop for its role in fostering unity and resilience among member states. eSwatini Tourism Marketing Officer, Chunky Sibonakaliso Mdluli, commended the seminar’s informative nature and its impact on strategy formulation for crisis communication. Memory Momba Kamthunzi from the Malawi Tourism Council appreciated the comprehensive insights into crisis management and the emphasis on public-private sector cooperation.

The SADC Business Council Tourism Alliance is committed to closely working with the SADC Secretariat and other stakeholders for the broader rollout of this program. The initiative underscores the critical need for a proactive approach to disaster risk management and crisis communication in safeguarding the tourism sector, a vital economic pillar for many member states.

Moreri Mabote, Senior Tourism Programme Officer at the SADC Secretariat, stressed the strategic importance of the project. “Our goal is not merely to react to disasters but to anticipate and mitigate risks proactively. This project is a testament to our collective commitment to protect and sustain our tourism industry,” he said.

The SADC Business Council Tourism Alliance, through its efforts, aims to promote sustainable tourism development, advocate for supportive policies, facilitate investments, and enhance regional tourism marketing and promotion. This project represents a significant stride towards realizing a more resilient and sustainable tourism sector in Southern Africa.

The SADC Business Council Tourism Alliance is a collaborative effort among tourism associations and private sector companies in the SADC region. It works alongside the SADC Secretariat and various stakeholders to promote sustainable tourism development, support industry growth through advocacy, facilitate investments, foster stakeholder capacity building, and enhance the regional promotion of tourism.