Harare – The United Nations says turning the disruption to tourism into new opportunities for improved competitiveness is essential for Africa’s recovery from the devastating impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
This was one of the key outcomes of a recent UN high-level meeting on “Boosting Africa’s Transformative Power of Tourism”.
“Disruptions in the travel and tourism industry provide new opportunities to revisit the business model and improve competitiveness in Africa. It is crucial to use this momentum to reshape existing travel policies and frameworks to make tourism an anchor of endogenous and sustainable socio-economic growth,” said Ms Cristina Duarte, Special Advisor to the UN Secretary-General on Africa
The UN World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) has reported that one billion less international tourists travelled globally in 2020, and Africa recorded a 74 percent fall in international tourist arrivals and a decline of 64 percent in tourism-related exports.
“As the world reopens, now is the time to deploy innovation and green-led tourism models and policies that unlock competitiveness, identify niche sectors and maximise potential, including for the ‘One Africa market’ in the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA),” emphasised Ms Ahunna Eziakonwa, UN Development Programme Regional Director for Africa
Discussions at the high-level panel focused on changes needed in the tourism sector to ensure it contributes to economic recovery, promotes youth and women’s employment, and enhances entrepreneurship, all with an eye on sustainability.
Ms Elcia Grandcourt, UNWTO Regional Director for Africa, said “tourism offers communities across Africa the chance to build back better, providing jobs and opportunities for marginalised groups, women and youth”.
Rwanda country head of the MasterCard Foundation, Ms Rica Rwigamba added that young Africans had “continuously shown great talent, creativity and resilience” in the tourism sector.
“Investing in them is both a validation of their tenacity and an act of hope, the hope that we will emerge on the other side of the pandemic stronger,” she said.