Visitation to Africa has nearly doubled in 10 years; tourism seen as contributing to overall prosperity
By Summit Voice
SUMMIT COUNTY — Tourism has the potential to be a major factor in contributing to overall economic growth and prosperity in Africa, said UN World Tourism Organization leader Taleb Rifai, speaking recently at the Tourism Investment Forum for Africa in Madrid.
“Africa has been one of the fastest growing tourism regions of the last decade,”Rifai said, urging continued support for tourism efforts. “With the right investment, tourist arrivals will continue to grow, investors will see excellent returns, jobs will be created and the entire economy will benefit.”
International tourism in Africa grew from 27 million international tourist arrivals in 2000 to 50 million in 2011. International tourism receipts, a vital source of foreign exchange in the region, tripled in just one decade (from US$ 10 billion in 2000 to US$ 30 billion in 2010).
Specifically, the WTO and INVESTOUR are seeking:
- The promotion and representation of destinations in the Spanish outbound market
- The creation and improvement of hotel establishments
- Ecotourism operations in national parks and protected areas.
- The promotion of wildlife-based tourism; safaris, etc.
- The promotion of cultural tourism.
- The transfer of technology and know-how in the hotel business and tourism sector.
African tourism officials at the conference emphasized the importance of tourism to the continent in terms of its socio-economic development.
Bello Bouba Maigari, Minister of Tourism and Leisure of Cameroon, spoke of how tourism projects across Central Africa were helping thousands to cross the poverty line. Mr. Nyamajeje Calleb Weggoro of the East African Community highlighted Africa’s many tourism assets.
“We have barely scrapped the surface of our potential,” he said.
“With one billion people expected to travel the world in 2012, we need to include tourism as a priority within Spanish foreign policy and cooperation actions,” said Martínez Vázquez, director general of Casa Africa.
INVESTOUR, now in its third year, aims to increase the visibility of Africa as a tourism destination and mobilize investment for sustainable tourism projects in the region. More than 25 African countries were represented at the Forum which included a series of presentations and debates followed by business-to-business meetings between Africa tourism companies and authorities and Spanish private sector representatives.