• Wednesday, April 24, 2024
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Why UN Tourism agenda for Africa focuses on inclusive growth

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The UN Tourism Africa department remains committed to its member states and the advancement of the UN Tourism Agenda for Africa – Tourism for Inclusive Growth. Over the past years, our member states have collaborated with us on key priorities to bring about transformative change in the African tourism sector.

Despite global challenges, our sector has shown remarkable resilience, with arrivals reaching 88 percent of pre-pandemic levels in 2023, and Africa itself surpassing expectations with96 percent of pre-pandemic visitors in 2023, with robust demand from European markets, with Ethiopia (+30 percent), Tanzania (+20 percent) and Morocco (+11 percent) all exceeding their 2019 numbers through October or November 2023. Key themes such as branding, safety and security, digital transformation and investment promotion have remained central, underscoring our objective for sustainable growth.Through partnerships and strategic initiatives, we continue to pave the way for a brighter future for African tourism.

Read also: Visa openness is back to pre-pandemic levels – UN Tourism report

As we work towards consolidating tourism development in Africa, we are pleased to share some key strategic priorities which aligns with the core thematic areas of our agenda.

The transition of the new name and brand: UN Tourism represents a significant shift and the organization’s aim to reaffirm its status as the global leader of tourism for development, driving social and economic change to ensure that “People, Planet and Prosperity” are central in all our activities. By placing people at the center, UN Tourism aims to ensure that local communities benefit directly from tourism initiatives, fostering economic growth, social inclusion, and cultural preservation.

In the past two years we have been strongly encouraging sustainable investment in the African tourism sector. Through targeted initiatives such as the production of Tourism Doing Business Guidebooks and strategic partnerships, we aim to create an enabling environment that attracts both domestic and foreign investment, fostering sustainable growth and development across the continent. Education and human capital development remain a cornerstone of our strategy as we seek to empower individuals and communities within the tourism sector. We are redoubling our efforts to provide access to quality education and training opportunities, equipping stakeholders with the knowledge and skills needed to thrive in a rapidly evolving industry.These two topics; investments and education will be further discussed and prominently covered within the framework of the 67th UN Tourism Regional Commission for Africa in Algeria in September 2024.

Additionally, we will launch initiatives aimed at showcasing the diverse cultural heritage, natural wonders, and unique experiences that Africa has to offer, bolstering its reputation as a premier travel destination.Against this backdrop, Zambia and Zimbabwe are set to host two pivotal events for the region: the second UN Tourism Regional Conference on Brand Africa and the first UN Tourism Africa Regional Gastronomy Forum, both to be hosted in July 2024. These high-level platforms are strategically designed to tackle challenges hindering the sector’s growth and redefine Africa’s brand narrative. By addressing persisting perceptual barriers and stereotypes, the conferences aspire to shift the narrative around the continent, ultimately aiming to unleash Africa’s tourism potential. This concerted effort will continue to serve as the nucleus of our strategic roadmap, marking a significant step towards reshaping the perception and maximizing the untapped opportunities within the African tourism environment.

Gender equality and women’s empowerment are also integral to our agenda for inclusive growth. We continue to advocate and promote the expansion of women’s participation and leadership in the tourism sector. Through the UN Tourism Women in Tourism Leadership Africa Committee (WITLAC), driven by the Honourable Minister of Sierra Leone, we will be sharing some key initiatives that will help propel and empower women in the tourism sector.

Looking ahead, our vision remains resolute. It is imperative to emphasize our firm commitment and dedication to dive the UN Tourism Agenda for Africa – Tourism for Inclusive Growth with a view to supporting our member states in fostering strong collaborations with key tourism stakeholders for the development of sustainable tourism projects with meaningful socio-economic impacts across the Africa region and guiding the sector towards a future of prosperity and shared benefits.

The author, Elcia Grandcourt is the regional director for Africa at UN Tourism