Stakeholders including 24 Tourism Ministers and 140 participants from 30 countries were unanimous in their decision to focus on addressing the immediate challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic as well as creating a roadmap designed to guide the sector in sustainable growth up to 2030.
These priorities include enhancing Africa’s tourism Infrastructure, boosting air connectivity, easing visa facilitation, ensuring the safety and security of tourists, investing in the development of human capital development, and improving the image of Africa to the rest of the world.
According to UNWTO Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashvili, “Africa’s tourism potential is undeniable, as is the potential of tourism to drive inclusive development across the continent. The steady easing of travel restrictions, first within nations and then across international borders, will allow the many social and economic benefits of tourism to return. If tourism’s restart is managed in a responsible and coordinated manner, harnessing the power of innovation and entrepreneurship, then it can transform millions of lives and help protect and preserve Africa’s rich cultural and natural heritage” he said.
At the high-wired meeting, members of the World Tourism Organization’s Regional Commission for Africa (CAF) met for the 63rd time to plot a united course towards a stronger and better tourism sector.
They were joined by representatives of the African Union, the West African Monetary Union and participants from the private sector in agreeing that if tourism’s restart is managed in a responsible and coordinated manner, harnessing the power of innovation and entrepreneurship, then it can transform millions of lives and help protect and preserve Africa’s rich cultural and natural heritage
In the run-up to the meeting, UNWTO’s Member States took part in an online survey through which they were invited to share their thoughts on how the UNWTO Agenda for Africa can be utilized to accelerate recovery from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and build resilience for the future. Participants expressed a strong desire to see the top five key areas of the Agenda for Africa prioritized to support swift and sustainable recovery.
These priorities are: unlocking growth through investment and effective public-private partnerships; promoting innovation and technology; visa facilitation and enhanced connectivity; advocating for Brand Africa, and fostering greater resilience, including through enhanced safety and security for tourists.
Joining Mr. Pololikashvili for the 63rd meeting of the CAF was the group’s current chairman Roland Chitotela, who also serves as Minister of Tourism and Arts, Zambia, and the African Union was represented by its Commissioner for Infrastructure and Energy, Dr. Amani Abou-Zeid. All participants welcomed the latest initiatives designed at growing African tourism announced by the Secretary-General, including the Brand Africa marketing competition and a fresh emphasis on showcasing African gastronomy and using this as a new market for sustainable tourism and job creation.