Tourism leaders debate sector’s key role in Africa
Tourism’s potential to alleviate poverty and induce transformative change in Africa has been addressed at a conference held in Zambia’s capital Lusaka.
The conference, a flagship event of the Africa region for the celebration of the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development, was coordinated by the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) in cooperation with Zambia’s government.
According to UNWTO statistical data, the African continent saw an increase of international arrivals of eight per cent in 2016 compared to the previous year. Together with the increasing commitment of African governments to position tourism in their agenda, the numbers show the sector is gaining prominence as well as showing strong potential to foster positive change.
The conference, which was preceded by a technical workshop to revise strategies and approaches to develop sustainable tourism initiatives in the African continent, tackled these issues as well as the potential of sustainable tourism to lead policies to foster communities inclusion.
The summit was attended by more than 200 international and local participants from Angola, Egypt, Jordan, Cabo Verde, Guinea Equatorial Kenya, Mali, Republic of Congo, Sudan, Switzerland, Spain, Union of the Comoros, Malawi, Seychelles, South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
The framework of the Agenda 2030 and the Sustainable Development Goals were defined together with the African Union Agenda 2063 as the best scenario to foster sustainable tourism in the continent.
Charles Banda, Minister of Tourism and Arts of Zambia, emphasised that “sustainability is believed to be the link between the present and the future. As patrons of the tourism sector our role is to ensure that even our children’s children experience the same nature in the form that it currently is and not in a worse off state.”
Taleb Rifai, the UNWTO’s secretary-general who congratulated Zambia for hosting the Conference as member of the UNWTO Executive Council and Chair for 2019, highlighted a range of transformations currently taking place across the globe, including the digital revolution, urban revolution and travel revolution.
“Today, the world is at a major transformation juncture, rapid and fast change is the essence of our time,” he said. “[These] three global forces are leading this transformation.”