Kigali, Rwanda | THE INDEPENDENT | Rwanda’s President Paul Kagame on Aug.29 called on African economies to provide favorable environment that would boost the growth of tourism industry on the continent.
He was speaking at the official opening of the 41st Annual World Tourism Conference that kicked off on Aug.28 in Rwanda’s capital city Kigali with a focus on promoting tourism as an engine for economic growth and job creation across Africa.
Rwanda hosted the meeting from Aug. 28 to 31, under the auspices of the Africa Travel Association (ATA), a division of the Corporate Council on Africa (CCA) and the Rwanda Development Board (RDB). It is the first time that ATA’s Tourism Conference was being hosted in Rwanda.
“Harnessing the full potential of tourism industry in Africa will require continued focus and investment on several fronts that fuel the engine of conservation and tourism growth. Strengthening good governance enables us to manage the environment that supports tourist attractions and generation of revenues,” Kagame said.
Rwanda, like other countries on the continent, is keen to convert the favorable demographics into economic growth and prosperity, said the president.
“We want to strengthen collaboration within our region and across the continent in order to advance tourism in Africa. The single tourist visa and passport-free travel with Kenya, Rwanda and Uganda is already a reality. We need more cooperation on the continent to increase the numbers of visitors and facilitate trade and investment within Africa,” he said.
The meeting has brought together African tourism ministers, industry professionals representing tourism boards, destination representatives, travel agents, tour operators, ground operators, airlines, hotels and accommodations, service providers, and travel media to set the stage for how tourism can be utilized as an engine for economic growth across Africa, according to organizers.
Florizelle Liser, CCA president and chief executive officer, said that CCA and ATA are determined to continue partnership for sustainable tourism on the continent through broadening the scope of public- private partnerships for tourism across multiple industries.
The four-day conference dwelt on innovative business models, new technologies and strategic partnerships. The event will also provide a platform to network and explore new tourism markets and products including the promotion and preservation of Africa’s rich cultural heritage and wildlife.
The conference highlighted opportunities in the tourism sector and intersecting sectors such as infrastructure, ICT, health, real estate development, and finance, she said.
According to the World Tourism Organization, Africa received a total of 65.3 million international tourists in 2014 and earned 43.6 billion U.S. dollars of revenue, compared to 17.4 million tourists in 1990.
The 40th Annual World Tourism Conference was held in Nairobi, Kenya in 2015.