Tourism boosting African development

The government of Zimbabwe has sent an ultimatum to unregistered tourism operators to register their operations or face the full wrath of the law.
File Pic; The government of Zimbabwe has sent an ultimatum to unregistered tourism operators to register their operations or face the full wrath of the law.

A common definition of tourism is that it is a travel for pleasure or business.

And that tourism may be international; or within the traveller’s country.

Over the decades, tourism has experienced continued growth and deepening ‎diversification to become one of the fastest growing economic sectors in the world, explain industry experts.

They also inform us that for many countries modern tourism is closely linked to development.

The tourism industry has clearly become a key driver for socio-‎economic progress across the globe.

Research confirms that, “Tourism has become one of the major players in ‎international commerce, and represents at the same time one of the main income ‎sources for many developing countries. This growth goes hand in hand with an ‎increasing diversification and competition among destinations.‎

This global spread of tourism in industrialised and developed states has produced ‎economic and employment benefits in many related sectors – from construction to ‎agriculture or telecommunications.‎”

The United Nation’s World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), specializes in assisting “destinations in their sustainable ‎positioning in ever more complex national and international markets.”

As the UN agency ‎dedicated to tourism, UNWTO points out that particularly developing countries stand to ‎benefit from sustainable tourism and acts to help make this a reality.‎

In Africa, now in its third version of the World Travel Market (WTM) Africa this year, the continent also stands to use the tourism sector as an development vehicle.

A popular view within the tourism industry is that, for Africa to fully utilize its tourism sector, a lot will depend on a comprehensive and inclusive approach in developing the African tourism sector from a mere elite industry to an all encompassing social and economic vehicle for all.

And a concrete direction on the tourism industry in Africa which is understood by all is long overdue.

Africa needs to watch, listen and learn from others for the continent to develop the tourism sector and its economy.

Since 2015, Cape Town has successfully hosted this premier travel event WTM for Africa with thousands ascending to the ‘Mother City’ and created new and unforgettable memories.

For example, exhibition leader, Thebe Reed Exhibitions for the third year running, is brought Africa’s leading travel and tourism gurus to the southern most tip of Africa, Cape Town.

Cape Town, a multiple international award winning city, is known for its creativity, nature conservation and numerous historical, heritage and cultural pluralism.

With around 5000 travel and tourism professionals, alongside 550 exhibitors, made their way to attend this leading global business-to-business expo that showcases the inbound and outbound travel markets from over 45 countries.

This means that attendees get access to unique business opportunities and top quality contacts from around the world.

Through pre-scheduled appointments and on-site networking, guests drive their commercial success with all-year-round connections and updates on industry news, developments and technologies.

WTM Africa is one of six shows in the WTM portfolio, with other exhibitions taking place in London, São Paulo, Dubai, Penang and Cannes.

The WTM Africa 2017 which kicked off on Wednesday, April 19 and ended of Friday April 21 was held at the Cape Town Convention Centre (CTICC).

This in every respect, is an event which organizers confirm is “the spotlight is on the continent as international exhibitors, buyers and visitors descend on Cape Town to create valuable partnerships and negotiate successful business deals which will contribute to the impact the industry has on the African economy.”

WTM Africa also brings to the table, a diverse array of premium exhibitors, associations and tourism authorities.

“As Africa’s leading B2B exhibition for both inbound and outbound travel and tourism markets, presenting a diverse range of destinations and industry sectors to South African, African and International travel professionals. Through its industry networks, global reach and regional focus, WTM Africa creates exclusive business opportunities, providing industry professionals with quality contacts, content and communities,” according to organisers.

WTM Africa 2015 saw over 500 exhibitors showcase their products and services to 4127 trade professionals over 3 days, with 7600 prescheduled appointments and 2 days of very successful speed networking.

This prestigious gathering has been blessed before with key tourism authorities exhibited here with then likes Abu Dhabi Tourism, Culture Authority. The Authority conserves and promotes the heritage and culture of such places as Abu Dhabi emirate. They manage the emirate’s tourism sector and markets the destination internationally through a wide range of activities aimed at attracting visitors and investment.

Tracey Krog, Country Manager, South Africa – Abu Dhabi Tourism and Culture Authority last year had commented that WTM Africa 2015 was the first time destination Abu Dhabi and its key partners showcased prominently to the South African and African travel industry with exhibitors such as Etihad Airways and Oryx Tourism participating on the TCA Abu Dhabi stand.

Included in the 2015WTM Africa’s diverse array of exhibitors was Namibia Tourism. Area Manager for the destination, Cristina Cicognani, who has the distinction of showcasing the country along with 20 Namibian Tourism suppliers.

Cicognani had noted then, “WTM Africa has created a wonderful international platform for our Namibia Tourism Suppliers to showcase their tourist related products. Last year marked the year in which Namibia celebrated its Silver Jubilee, 25 years of successful and fruitful years of a peaceful independence.

She said, Namibia Tourism Board is always proud to support their businesses in South Africa and to the International Tourist Trade.

A true highlight of WTM Africa 2015’s was the official charity, The Tourism Child Protection Code of Conduct (The Code), which together with leading South African tourism industry stakeholders signaled their game-changing approach to protecting children from the worst forms of exploitation.

“The Code is an industry-driven, multi-stakeholder initiative with the mission to provide awareness, tools and support to the tourism industry in order to combat the sexual exploitation of children in contexts related to travel and tourism.”

According to organisers, “Travel professionals can not only meet up with their favourite African travel services suppliers, but international destinations will be there too, such as: Dubai, India, Thailand, Abu Dhabi, Reunion, Seychelles, Mauritius, Ghana, and Maldives.”

“Everyone is welcome to browse the WTM Africa exhibition floors at their leisure or engage and interact with over 600 great product suppliers both local and international. Anyone in the business of travel cannot afford not to be there as they can gain so much knowledge. The event programme too is worth coming for on its own as it is packed with stimulating relevant content that has been compiled with the travel professional in mind. ”

Travel professionals in SA need not worry any more that they are unable to participate in travel trade shows around the world. We have our own world class event, right here at the tip of Africa! Get there and be the best you can be.”

Another highlight moment for all the three WTM Africa has been the City Sightseeing open-top bus tour where attendants get the opportunity to visit the various tourist destinations in Cape Town.

The open-top tours allow anyone wanting a safe, fun and informative introduction to the city.

The service also comes with an array of community tours. From the free walking tours in and around the Cape Town to multicultural township experiences, sidecar adventures include even a chopper flip.

According to the Africa Tourism Monitor (ATM) Tourism in Africa is on the rise, but has not yet reached its full potential.

For the past three years, the African Development Bank (AfDB) has published the ATM which is an an annual report on the tourism industry in Africa.

In a joint publication by the AfDB, New York University’s Africa House the report offers a comprehensive overview of the tourism sector in Africa.

It focuses on both opportunities and challenges.

It also features facts, figures and contributions from key tourism players across the continent, with tour operators, experts and industry representatives shedding light on key issues via a series of case studies.and the Africa Travel Association (ATA), titled “Unlocking Africa’s Tourism Potential”.

One of the key findings of the report, is that the tourism sector in Africa has been growing quite impressively.

Forinstance, in 2014, a total of 65.3 million international tourists visited the continent , this is around 200,000 more than in 2013.

And back in 1990, Africa could only attract just 17.4 million visitors from abroad.

The sector has more than quadrupled in growth in less than 20 years.

And according to the UNWTO. Africa’s strong performance in 2014 (up 4%) makes it one of the world’s fastest-growing tourist destinations.

Which is second only to Southeast Asia (up 6%).