UNWTO, Google Reiterate Commitment to Tourism Growth With Acceleration Program In Sub-Saharan Africa

by Olamilekan Okeowo

As more people go online to search where and when they can travel, United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) and technology giant, Google, have reiterated that advancing digitalization would be key to adapting to the new tourism environment.

To this effect, the two organizations have partnered for an online Acceleration Program for UNWTO Member States’ tourism ministers, top travel associations, and tourism boards to further develop innovation and digital transformation skills.

The first UNWTO and Google Tourism Acceleration Program focused on insights from South Africa, Kenya, and Nigeria.

The session included the presentation of the latest UNWTO impacts assessment and as well as the new UNWTO Tourism Recovery Tracker, the most comprehensive insights dashboard on tourism indicators.

According to Natalia Bayona, UNWTO Director of Innovation, Digital Transformation, and Investments, UNWTO is focused on assisting African countries grow back stronger.

“UNWTO is committed to helping Africa grow back stronger. With the right policies, training, and management in place, innovation and technology have the potential to foster new and better jobs and business opportunities for tourism in Africa while improving the overall wellbeing and prosperity of the region” she said.

Similarly, Sandra Carvao, UNWTO Chief of Market Intelligence and Competitiveness disclosed that market intelligence and insights are central to understanding consumers’ needs and thereby drive recovery.

“Market intelligence and insights are more important than ever to understand consumers and drive recovery. In line with the ongoing UNWTO training program on data and intelligence for Africa, this partnership with Google allows UNWTO to strengthen Africa’s data and digital skills” she said.

On her part, Doron Avni, Google’s Director of Government Affairs and Public Policy for Emerging Market reiterated the commitment of the tech giant in helping the tourism sector rise above the pandemic.

“We’re here to help the tourism sector rise up from this unprecedented crisis and emerge stronger. Our travel data insights and tools can help tourism authorities identify and understand the barriers and drivers to visit travel destinations for better tourism planning” she said.

Recall that the COVID-19 crisis has disproportionately affected tourism, a sector that accounts for millions of jobs around the globe.
As data from UNWTO revealed, tourism represented 9% of global trade for Africa and 1 in 10 jobs directly and indirectly. Moreover, the sector drives inclusive growth with women making 54% of the workforce.

While it is still uncertain when tourism will recover, people are starting to dream again of getaways whether closer to home or to remote destinations.

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