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Tourism recovery: African leaders discuss growth, opportunities

By  Maria Diamond
08 October 2022   |   2:22 am
AS tourism recovery advances across the Africa, sector leaders from across the continent have come together at the 65th meeting of the UNWTO Regional Commission for Africa to rethink the sector and its central role in driving growth and opportunity across the continent. The meeting, which took place recently in Tanzania, had about 25 Ministers…

Zurab Pololikashvili

AS tourism recovery advances across the Africa, sector leaders from across the continent have come together at the 65th meeting of the UNWTO Regional Commission for Africa to rethink the sector and its central role in driving growth and opportunity across the continent.

The meeting, which took place recently in Tanzania, had about 25 Ministers of Tourism and high-level representatives from 35 countries as well as leaders from the private sector.

The meeting embraced the theme of the just concluded World Tourism Day (WTD), Rethinking Tourism, with a focus on innovation, branding, jobs and education and partnerships.

Discussions focused on both the immediate and longer-term recovery of tourism across the continent, including through redefining the roadmap of the UNWTO Agenda for Africa 2030. Key topics highlighted by the high-level participants included accelerating tourism for inclusive growth, advancing the sustainability of the sector and the role of public-private partnerships in achieving both of these goals.

Alongside this, the heightened relevance of air connectivity, including low-cost air travel within Africa, as well as the pressing need to support small businesses (SMEs) in gaining the digital tools and knowledge they need to compete, was also discussed.

UNWTO Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashvili who provided members with an update of the organisation’s activities and accomplishments in the last 12 months said: “Tourism in Africa has a long history of bouncing back. And it has shown its resilience again. Many destinations are reporting strong arrival numbers. But we must look beyond just the numbers and rethink how tourism works so that our sector can deliver on its unique potential to transform lives, drive sustainable growth and provide opportunity everywhere in Africa.”

According to the latest UNWTO data, for the first seven months of the year, international arrivals across Africa were 171 per cent up on 2021 levels, driven largely by regional demand.

Based on this, UNWTO is prioritising jobs and training alongside greater and more-targeted investment in tourism in order to help members of the committee capitalise on the sector’s return, and to build greater sustainability and resilience.

On the eve of the meeting, UNWTO launched a set of Investment Guidelines focused on Tanzania, designed to support foreign investment in the country.

In her remark, Her Excellency President Samia Suluhu Hassanof Tanzania who warmly welcomed all delegates and UNWTO officials, called on them to embrace sustainability.

She, however, highlighted the work Tanzania has been undertaking to protect the natural habitats and wildlife that help make it a popular destination while also increasing inclusivity in the sector.

Tanzania’s Minister for Natural Resources and Tourism, Pindi Hazara Chana, also noted that the country is looking to diversify its tourism sector in order to boost arrival numbers and revenues over the next five years.

To conclude the meeting, Members voted to hold the 65th session of the UNWTO Commission for Africa in Mauritius.

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