Travel stakeholders call for action on intra-Africa travel, exchanges to grow continent’s economy
...as Botswana hosts ATLF 2022
Stakeholders in the African travel and tourism sector have called on governments across the continent to match their various promises of open borders and seamless connectivity with actions that will soar intra-African travels and exchanges.
The stakeholders, comprising aviation, hospitality, travel agencies, tour operators, destination management companies, convention bureaus, among others, made the call at the ongoing African Tourism Leadership Forum (ATLF 2022) in Gaborone, Botswana.
Speaking on the rationale for supporting intra-Africa travels and exchanges, Kwakye Donkor, CEO, African Tourism Partners, organisers of the forum, noted that the 54 countries and their huge population offer great business potential for SMEs and private sector in the travel sector, amid booming travels that will impact Africa’s economy positively.
He noted further that a booming intra-Africa travel will be possible with government and private sector collaboration, but that government has to lead with more action on enabling policies than promises.
On her part, Elcia Grandcourt, director, Africa Department, United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO), disclosed that a thriving intra-Africa travel will block leakages and improve tourism receipts as about 80 percent of travel spending goes to big airlines and international hotel chains outside of Africa.
She noted that intra-Africa travel will encourage Africans to travel within, spend within, eat locally and grow local economies, with huge impact on host communities.
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As well, Didier Scaillet, CEO, SITE Belgium, said that Africa has a huge untapped travel market and should learn from Europe, which has the highest number of intra-continent travels and exchanges.
“You have the best of nature, wildlife, beautiful cultures, food and warmth, but you need to visit each other more often to explore all these potential, and grow these destinations by such regular visits,” Scaillet said.
From the government perspective, Mokgweetsi Masisi, president of Botswana, said that despite the challenges of formulating and implementating seamless travel across the continent, some African governments are rising to the occasion.
The president noted that his government has formulated a new tourism policy that will promote active citizens participation and also encouraging more exchanges with other African countries.
He disclosed further that Botswana is encouraging intra-Africa travel with its easy visa and designation of some countries as visa-free.
Ibrahim Awal, minister of Art, Tourism and Culture, Ghana, thinks that African governments should do more on removing bottlenecks to intra-Africa travels and take advantage of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) to trade among themselves.
“Let us remove the barriers that limit us because it is sad that trade within the continent is 14 percent, it is 72 percent in Europe and more in other continents, 1.3 billon people is big for thriving trade and intra-Africa travel,” the Ghanaian minister said.
Meanwhile, Botswana is excited at hosting Africa and the world at the 5th ATLF and hopes to host the forum for two more years, Philda Kereng, minister of Environment and Tourism, Botswana, assured.