Tourism ministers across the African continent are seeking further partnerships with the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) to boost tourism investment, ensuring security and growing tourists’ receipts in Africa.
The ministers, who gathered for the UNWTO Global Tourism Investment Forum In Africa, which held at Sofitel Abidjan Hôtel Ivoire, Côte d’Ivoire, from February 20-22, 2020, strategised on ways to attract and grow investments in the African tourism sector while the UNWTO offered to support were necessary.
One of the highlights of the tourism investment forum, which held for the first time in Africa, was a Ministerial Conference on the theme “Fostering African Tourism through Investment” and was chaired by Siandou Fofona, Minister of Tourism and Leisure, Côte d’Ivoire, amid the presence of Abdoul Karim Sango, vice-chair, Regional Commission for Africa, and Zurab Pololikashvili, secretary-general, UNWTO.
According to Fofona, the conference was necessary to identify measures to facilitate access to African destinations and to highlight the conditions needed for the proper control of threats in order to better attract and secure investments.
Fofona led other ministers to discuss topical issues affecting African tourism development, including air connectivity, difficulties in obtaining visas for tourists in most of the states, high cost of African destinations, improving Africa’s image in the media, creation of a Community Fund for Tourism and Hotel Investment and Development, among other issues.
In proffering solutions, the ministers recommended the institutionalization of the Single African Air Transport Market (SAATM), by establishing the legal and regulatory framework necessary at the national level to allow its full establishment; cooperation among transport authorities, tourism authorities and other ministries; formulation of a marketing and promotion strategy supporting the development of tourism products, adopt solutions for opening up visa regimes among others.
On security, the ministers recommended the establishment of a reference system compiling good practices and the best responses, use of Toolbox for Crisis Communications, creation of tourism police among others.
In his remarks at the forum, Zurab Pololikashvili, Secretary General, UNWTO, expressed his appreciation to Alassane Ouattara, president of Cote d’ivoire for the support to host the maiden event which aimed at selling bankable African tourism products to the world. He re-echoed the need to develop the sector and create employment opportunities with investments into the sector
Pololikashvili declared that the attitude and vision of Siandou Fofana, the host country’s tourism minister have been extremely valuable, especially for his leadership both in Cote d’Ivoire and at the regional level.
The conference witnessed over 800 delegates comprised of experts, investors, public officials including tourism ministers from Mali, Democratic Republic of Congo, Sierra Leone, Gambia, Senegal, Burkina Faso, South Africa, Central African Republic, and Gabon, with Zimbabwe and Zambia as observers.