BusinessDay

UNWTO celebrates Africa, says continent holds much for global tourism

In his message for Africa Day celebration on May 25, 2022, Zurab Pololikashvili, secretary-general, United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO), appreciated the African continent amid her vast tourism potential.

According to him, Africa Day celebration offers a chance for the world to come together to recognize the richness of the diverse continent, its people and its destinations, while at the same time noting the challenges and opportunities Africa faces.

“And this year, we focus on food security and nutrition, one of the most pressing issues for so many people in Africa”, he said. This challenge is despite the fact that Africa is endowed with 70 percent of arable land and agriculture is one of the most important economic sectors on the continent. “To be sure, there are many challenges to address to transform the sector, to make it more sustainable and to secure food access and distribution. But we have good reason to be optimistic about the future”.

He also noted that Africa is home to the fastest growing urban populations on earth and its growth is being driven by a buoyant youth possessing incredible talent and ingenuity.

“Moreover, tourism is returning across Africa, and our sector has the power to deliver positive change and inspire transformation.

“Right now, around one-third of all the money tourists spend globally goes on food. In Africa, this supports businesses and both local and national economies. It also supports jobs and provides opportunities, most notably for women, for youth and for many people living in rural areas. But this enormous potential is yet to be fully realized.

Read also: Tourism enjoys strong start to 2022 while facing new uncertainties – UNWTO

“We need to invest in human capital as a main pillar of recovery, giving people capacity, skills development and the right tools for entrepreneurship. MSMEs that are the backbone of the sector must receive the necessary support from the government to drive the sector and secure millions of jobs in Africa”, he said.

Speaking further, the UNWTO secretary general said that Africa is rich in immense natural and cultural resources and the diversification of the economy through tourism would be key to build resilience against external shocks and so build economic stability and greater food security.

Domestic and regional intra and inter tourism are valuable sources of income and can boost infrastructures, he noted, while urging that the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) and the Single African Air Transport Market (SAATM) are paramount for advancing Africa’s agenda on sustainable development.

“Through the UNWTO Agenda for Africa –Tourism for Inclusive Growth, we will continue to support the continent and grow the sector as a pillar of opportunity for all.

“And we will continue to support Africa tourism with major flagship events:

In October, UNWTO will hold its 65th UNWTO Commission meeting for the region in Tanzania. And then in November, we will meet in Nigeria for the global conference on Linking Tourism, Culture and Creative Industries, Pathways to Recovery and Inclusive Development.

“And above all, we will continue to champion Africa, its people, its rich heritage and vibrant cities and its rich gastronomy”, he concluded, while wishing the continent well.

UNWTO is a specialized agency of the United Nations.

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