• Thursday, June 13, 2024
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African tourism needs to tap into AfCFTA, BRICS platforms for growth

African tourism needs to tap into AfCFTA, BRICS platforms for growth

Nomasonto Ndlovu is the acting chief executive officer of South African Tourism (SAT). In this interview, she speaks to Obinna Emelike on the need for African countries to prioritize tourism, collaborate with other economic blocs and remove barriers within the continent to grow intra-Africa trade and tourism.

Excerpt

How can the AfCFTA and collaborations with the BRICS bloc contribute to the growth of tourism in Africa?

With a pact that connects 1.3 billion people across 55 countries in Africa and a combined gross domestic product (GDP) valued at US$3.4 trillion, the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) is the largest free trade area in the world measured by the number of countries participating. So, if we now combine the strength of AfCTA and the BRICS bloc’s over $USD26.03 trillion GDP in 2022, that will ensure huge opportunities for Africa and prosperity for her people. Narrowing the benefits down to tourism, the 55 countries in Africa will witness huge traffic from the BRICS bloc and a huge inflow of foreign exchange.

What opportunities can be explored to boost intra-African tourism, and increase tourist arrivals from BRICS countries?

There are lots of opportunities for culture, tourism, business travel, MICE and more. But we need to agree and effect seamless travels across the BRICS and AfCTA countries to enable more exchanges across the two blocs. But I see Africa gaining more from such moves. In Africa, we need to break the barriers, remove border challenges, simplify visas and make airfares competitive to boost intra-African travel.

Read also: Diversification of economy: Akwa Ibom to unveil tourism agenda at FTAN’s AGM

Are there campaigns, visa measures or development projects that can attract more tourists from within Africa and the BRICS bloc?

South African Tourism (SAT) has been very efficient in its campaign to woo global tourists to South Africa and so also other countries across Africa. We need to boost that effort and also create more products for our BRICS visitors. We also need to ensure easy visa facilitation, handling of visitors, accommodation offerings, cultural attractions and MICE to be at par with global standards to ensure that our BRICS and other African visitors get the best on their visit to our destinations.

Are there successful examples or initiatives to help Africans prioritize sustainable tourism development?

In South Africa, the government, through necessary legislation and collaborations has given priority to sustainable tourism practices and responsible tourism. The host communities have also followed to sustain such efforts because most of the tourist attractions are domiciled in rural communities.

Kenya has also done well with restrictions in her Marine Parks and other conservation areas. It is something that requires everyone’s effort and compliance is appreciated, though we need to do more.