Message on Africa Day, Madrid, 25 May 2019

Today, the people of Africa are celebrating around the globe Africa Day. It is my honor and profound pleasure to congratulate our African member states of the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) for their commitment to mainstream sustainable tourism in their political and economic agendas.

To this end, since I took office in early 2018 as the UNWTO Secretary-General, the organization through the Regional Department for Africa initiated a consultative process with member states of the region which concluded with the approval and presentation of the special UNWTO Agenda for Africa – Roadmap to inclusive growth. This roadmap now serves as a blueprint and a strategic framework to help unlock the tourism potential towards inclusive development.

This agenda, which is aligned with the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and its 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), fully reflects the seven aspirations of the Agenda 2063 of the African Union (AU) for a socio-economic transformation of the continent through sustainable tourism. Our  close collaboration with the African Union have strengthened over the years through the participation of institutional meetings such as our regional commission meetings, the AU Sub-Committee on Tourism and other tourism related projects undertaken in the region.

Furthermore, member states have unanimously pledged their support to the implementation of this strategic agenda and from the beginning of my mandate I have been encouraged to further express our commitment and support by being present on the continent where members have taken the leadership and organized activities leading to the realization of the agenda.

The UNWTO/ICAO Ministerial Conference on Tourism and Air Transport in Africa held in Santa Maria, Sal Island, Cabo Verde from 27 to 29 March 2019 and the upcoming Regional Congress on Women empowerment in the tourism sector-focus in Africa, Accra, Ghana from 25 to 27 November 2019 are concrete milestones of the Agenda with the strong support and commitment of the respective Governments.

Africa is the youngest continent of the world with 60% of its youth under the age of 25. This major human capital and demographic dividend need to be harnessed through concrete actions such as innovation and digitalization through start-ups, investment strategies and entrepreneurship, education and skills development.

This year, UNWTO has put a special focus on these areas and we have been channeling our efforts to make it a reality for the African member states. The newly rebranded UNWTO Academy will offer a wide range of online technical and leadership trainings and I invite all member states of Africa to take advantage of it in their effort to strengthen human capital.

Once again, I reiterate my congratulations to all African people on this great day and I am convinced that Africa’s immense and diverse potential can contribute positively to the sustainable development of the continent.

Mr. Zurab Pololikashvili, UNWTO Secretary-General