At least over 600 physical and over 1000 virtual delegates attended the Africa Youth in Tourism Innovation Summit (AYITS) and Challenge 2023. Participants included youth in tourism, entrepreneurs, start-ups, and small enterprises and had the opportunity to reconnect, engage, and learn.
Hosted by the Namibia Ministry of Environment, Forestry and Tourism in collaboration with Africa Tourism Partners, UNWTO and BDO, the 5th and 2023 Africa Youth in Tourism Innovation Summit went a notch higher and recorded a resounding success. Held from May 30 to June 2, 2023 in Swakopmund Namibia, the Summit attracted scores of physical and virtual participants from the African continent and the world over.
In his statement on the occasion of the official opening of Africa Youth in Tourism Innovation Summit and Challenge, Pohamba Shifeta, Minister of Environment, Forestry and Tourism, described tourism as one of the pillars of economic growth that directly contributes to poverty alleviation and economic development. He also encouraged the youth and tourism stakeholders to take advantage of the platform for fruitful collaboration.
“I urge the youth of Africa and all industry players to collaborate and form partnerships to place the “Africa brands/destinations” at the centre stage of the global dialogue, displaying and expressing the love and warmth of the African people, our diverse culture, abundant wildlife, natural beauty and scenery, organic food and rich history of the continent in your engagements with friends across the globe. Africa is beautiful and fascinating; there is none like Africa, elsewhere”!
The international hosted buyers had a fair share of the cake through fruitful business-to-business engagements. Reflecting on some of the immediate benefits of the hosted buyer program, Kemang Leluma, a tour operator from Lesotho had this to say, “I want to appreciate a chance and time I had with you my fellow Africans business leaders and international leaders. I have learned so much from you as the speakers with brilliant ideas shared and those of us we shared knowledge during business networks even during tours in Namibia. Among all, I loved the spirit of us wishing to be future millionaires and contributing to the growth of our society, of course the continent at large”. Besides attending the Summit, international hosted buyers had the opportunity to participate in the Social Media and Digital Marketing and MICE Masterclass.
The hosted buyer program was uniquely packaged by the host country to expose Namibia’s tourism attractions, culture, gastronomy and activities to enable the hosted buyers to craft packages and market the country from a knowledgeable angle.
Members of the media from several African countries who were in attendance provided extensive coverage of the summit. These included; Voyages Afriq, Tanzania Broadcasting Corporation, TV3 and 3 FMGhana, Southern and East African Platform Daily Tourism Update, BusinessDay Nigeria, Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation, Namibia Broadcasting Corporation and many other local media houses. Online media platforms also played a key role in disseminating information about the summit across the world.
The summit ended with the awards cocktail where the Top 3 continental innovators were announced. The shortlisted innovators included; Gloria Kisilu from Kenya, Cornelius Collins Ugwunwa from Nigeria, Ntshabo Lehong from South Africa. The winner of the 2023 Africa Tourism Innovation Challenge will be announced at the Africa Tourism Leadership Forum and Awards in Botswana Scheduled for October 2023. The winner will receive a seed grant to the value of US$10, 000.00 consisting non-cash mentorship, marketing support and cash of US$1, 000 whilst 1st & 2nd runners-up will receive US$500 each, plus mentorship, marketing support and exposure to many other opportunities to the value of US$5, 000 among several benefits.