UNWTO African Members States, gathered on the
occasion of the 56th Meeting of the UNWTO Commission for Africa,
highlighted the need to have better coordination between tourism
and air transport policies to fully explore the tourism sector’s
capacity to deliver on growth and development in the continent.
The meeting, which took place in Luanda between 28 and 30 April,
also discussed the on-going poaching crisis in Africa and its
negative impact on tourism.
By 2030, Africa’s international tourist
numbers could grow from its current 56 million to 134 million and
a rising number of African countries have embraced tourism as a
priority for their development.
Against this backdrop,
participants at the UNWTO Commission for Africa Meeting and the
corresponding Seminar on ‘Tourism and Air Connectivity in Africa’
discussed how to overcome existing barriers to advance Africa’s
tourism, including travel facilitation, air connectivity and
“Tourism accounts for 7% of all
exports in Africa and 58% of its service exports and is one of the
most important sectors for the economies of the continent,” said
UNWTO Secretary-General Taleb Rifai. “Yet to fully realize the
potential tourism has in promoting growth and development in
Africa, it is imperative to work towards a better alignment of tourism and air transport policies in the region.”
The lack of consideration of tourism benefits and coordination
between the tourism and aviation sectors, producing suboptimal air
transport and tourism policies, infrastructure limitation,
unsuitable taxation and restrictive visa policies, were identified
as the main factors hampering the development of both tourism and
air transport in Africa.
The seminar laid the groundwork
for the first UNWTO & International Civil Aviation Organization
(ICAO) Tourism and Transport Ministerial Conference for Africa,
which will be held 14-15 October 2014 in Mahé, Seychelles.
Poaching in Africa
A special debate was
held during the meeting which looked at the on-going poaching crisis and its impact on tourism and
the livelihoods of millions living off the sector in the region.
In this regard, Member States mandated UNWTO to pursue its
advocacy work in the area of anti-poaching, and explore how the
tourism sector can help contribute to the global fight against
A UNWTO report on the value of wildlife
watching tourism in Africa presented at the meeting confirms
wildlife watching tourism as one of the main tourism draws in the
majority of the region’s destinations. The report estimates
wildlife watching tourists to represent between 80% and 90% of all
visitors of protected areas.
The report further identifies illegal wildlife trade as a serious issue, clearly affecting tourism
development in the region, not only in terms of biodiversity loss,
but also as a security threat and a negative factor affecting the
international perception of African destinations.
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