Africa News | Volume 20. Nov 2021
Dear Esteemed readers,
Following an abrupt standstill in international arrivals due to the COVID-19 health crisis, we are pleased to see that international tourism has experienced signs of rebound during June-July 2021 as some destinations eased travel restrictions and the global vaccination roll-out advanced in many parts of the world is proving to be effective. Millions of jobs and livelihoods of local communities have been put at risk with the unprecedented effects of the pandemic. While Africa may be one of the least affected regions, many of the social-economic gains, gender equality and sustainable development made possible through tourism have been rolled back.
In addition to several initiatives launched to support member states with the recovery of the sector, we continue to monitor closely and assess the impact of the pandemic through the UNWTO Global Tourism Dashboard on Tourism and COVID-19, the Tourism Recovery Tracker which provide member states with comprehensive, reliable and updated information and updated reports on travel restrictions by governments. These reports are all accessible through our websites and serve as key tools to support member states in their recovery plans.
As part of our rural development initiative, UNWTO opened calls for best tourism villages. Here we are aiming to identify the best examples of rural villages that are harnessing the power of tourism to provide opportunity and safeguard their communities, local traditions and heritage. In addition, in preparation of COP 26, UNWTO together with UNEP Environment and other international environmental agencies engaged all stakeholders to tackle the issue of climate change in the tourism sector. The Glasgow Declaration: A urgent Global Call for Commitment to a decade of Climate Action in Tourism aims to cut global tourism emissions by at least a half over the next decade and reach Net Zero emissions as soon as possible before 2050. In this regard, we highly encourage interested signatories in Africa to subscribe to the declaration on Climate Action in Tourism.
In line with the UNWTO Agenda for Africa-Tourism for inclusive Growth, a strategic roadmap to develop tourism in Africa spearheaded by the UNWTO Secretary-General, our activities highlight the importance of sustainable investments through public-private partnerships, and the need to promote Brand Africa, both of which are aimed at supporting tourism recovery and revitalizing the tourism sector with innovative solutions. During May, through Advocating Brand Africa, a range of workshops on African Gastronomy were held, followed by the UNWTO Regional Conference on Strengthening Brand Africa for the swift recovery of the tourism sector hosted in Namibia from 14 to 16 June. The event set the tone for key strategic recommendations on national and regional Branding through the tourism sector aimed at enhancing the image of the continent and to bring African narratives to the fore. Through a series of technical workshops and the Ministerial Think Tank culminated in the adoption of the Windhoek pledge on Advocating Brand Africa by African tourism ministers, Representatives of the African Union Commission and the AU-NEPAD Development Agency.
At the same time, we continue our efforts to promote country brochures on African Gastronomy and highlight the vital role that gastronomy plays in the promotion and the visibility of destinations. In particular, the UNWTO World Forum on Gastronomy Tourism, from 31 October to 2 November in Bruges, Flanders will dedicate a special session on Africa Gastronomy.
In pursuance of supporting efforts of member states in the region on tourism statistics that can serve to better capture the potential of domestic tourism, a two-day virtual capacity-building workshop was organized on 6 and 7 July. These workshops allowed officials of ministries of tourism and national statistics organizations to better understand, measure and manage tourism statistics for tourism recovery and uncover innovative ways such as big data sources on tourism measurement.
The 64th UNWTO Commission for Africa Meeting and 2nd edition of the Global Tourism Forum for Africa, organized jointly by UNWTO and the Government of Cabo Verde, held in Sal Island, from 2 to 4 September, allowed the Ministers of Tourism to address topical issues and solutions required to support the recovery of the tourism sector. The key outcomes for a safe restart of the industry highlighted the extreme importance of the impact of COVID-19 on the tourism sector, the existing challenges faced by member states on vaccine rollouts, job losses, safety and security hurdles, air connectivity and harmonized travel protocols. Members also received an update on the international code for protection of tourists. Discussions also led to a better understanding the benefits of green investment opportunities an area of potential that are still untapped for the sector.
Additionally, Members were nominated to vacant posts of UNWTO statutory organs ahead of the 24th UNWTO Session of the General Assembly to be held in Madrid from 30 November to 3rd December. It was an opportune occasion to launch the UNWTO publication Brand Africa, a guidebook to strengthen the competitiveness for African Tourism, a toolkit for effective brand strategy and marketing to attract new source markets and the UNWTO Declaration on the Future of Mobility and sustainable Transportation focusing on green investments and enhanced cooperation between tourism and travel providers.
Alongside the meeting, Capacity-building workshops on innovation, digital marketing and investment, were held to provide young entrepreneurs and MSMEs, practical measures for sustainable investments, through digitalization and innovation.
Our collaboration with regional organisations led to the signing of A Memorandum of Understanding with the African Airlines Association (AFRAA), signed on 21 September. This MoU aims at strengthening our partnership with the air transport sector and to coordinate the safe restart of tourism for Africa.
A wonderful way to restart travels was celebrated in our region, with the marking of the official World Tourism Day celebrations that took place in Côte d’Ivoire on 27 September. The theme Tourism for Inclusive Growth, highlighted the tourism sector’s unique ability to create more and better jobs and thereby help drive inclusive recovery and build a better future for millions of people all around the world. Expert-led sessions resulted in key recommendations for a betterment of employment opportunities of tourism in uncertain times.
Moreover, we conducted during the first semester 2021 with the officials of ministries of tourism interactive virtual meetings preparing them to be ready when international tourism moves again. We will continue this initiative with our member states to share with them UNWTO initiatives as a support towards tourism recovery.
Moving forward, UNWTO will continue to support Member States in Africa and will conduct more technical assistance on the ground as travel is slowly resuming. I truly believe that strong coordination and harmonized travel protocols couple with vaccine rollouts will help the tourism sector in the region to recover better and stronger and that partnership with local businesses and investments can boost the sector and create sustainable jobs for women, the youth and vulnerable groups.