A meeting by experts of the Sub-Committee on tourism for African Union ministers of tourism kicked off in Nairobi on Monday, with a clarion call for Africa to develop a joint continental strategy to spur the growth of the tourism sector.
The United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) forecasts show that the number of international arrivals to Africa is expected to increase more than double, growing from 62 million in 2017 to 134 million in 2030.
The event organized by the African Union Commission (AUC) in collaboration with the Kenyan government brings together tourism ministers from across the African Continent to deliberate on how to diversify Africa’s Tourism Product.
The conference will also seek on how to address the key challenges facing the tourism industry in Africa with a view to developing appropriate tourism strategies that are well-aligned to the AU Agenda 2063.
While opening the meeting, Kenya’s Cabinet Secretary for tourism and wildlife Najib Balala said it was imperative for the continent to develop a tourism action plan, with a view to optimize the role of tourism as an engine and catalyst for economic development and growth in Africa.
This could be achieved through the establishment of a conducive environment, regional co-operation advocacy and stakeholder participation.
“I believe there is necessity for Africa as a continent to develop a common strategy that will tap into the various strategies that you developed as member countries of African Union,” he said.
He said that at the regional front, African destinations should strive to promote intra and inter-regional tourism through the existing regional economic groupings.
“This will no doubt grow and stabilize international tourist arrivals to African destinations, which more often than not are prone to seasonality problems. Joint marketing programmes through these regional blocs, should take advantage of the attractions that we have within our borders,” he added.
Balala further challenged African countries to open their skies and forge partnerships within the continent and globally for access.