African Ministers of Tourism, Transport and Aviation adopt the Santa Maria, Sal Island Ministerial Declaration on Air Transport and Tourism Development in Africa.
PR No.: PR
29 March 2019
For the first time the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) and the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) has managed to join forces with the Government of Cabo Verde to host the First Ministerial Conference on Air Transport and Tourism in Africa, which was held in Sal Island, Cabo Verde. The event attracted a great number of tourism stakeholders from both the public and private sector and over 20 Ministers of Tourism, Transport and Aviation from Africa represented their countries at this first historic event. Delegates travelled from various regions of the world to discuss critical issues and exchange ideas related to the tourism and travel sector and its impact in the Africa region.
Cabo Verde is a country that is highly dependent on tourism and the presence of the high level Government authorities at the event sends a clear message on the country´s commitment to the development of this sector. H.E. Jorge Carlos Fonseca, President of Cabo Verde launched open the conference and in his address went on to say that the lack of quality of airport infrastructure and the weaknesses of organizational system in Africa are an obstacle. "This is a very serious obstacle to the goal of making Africa the tourist destination par excellence of the first choice for people from other continents," pointed out the President.
The very first gathering of these two major sectors and key stakeholders of the tourism and transport sector aimed to bring together high-level government officials and technical experts from air transport and tourism, as well as from complementary areas, international organizations and private sector stakeholders, in order to build on progress and advancements achieved so far in these two sectors, and propose concrete solutions as well as credible means that would enable African States to maximize and balance the benefits from the future development of tourism and air transport services in the Continent.
Mr. Zurab Pololikashvili, Secretary General of UNWTO recalled that this event is a translation of one of the key priorities identified in the UNWTO Agenda for Africa and commanded the leadership of H.E. Dr. José da Silva Gonçalves, Minister of Tourism and Transport and Minister of Maritime Economy, Cabo Verde for taking active role in advancing and strengthening the discussions related to promoting Travel Facilitation. He further mentioned that the ´recent agreement between Cabo Verde Airlines and Icelandair is a good example: it is a step towards an Atlantic Hub based on the island of Sal, it will allow the expansion of Cabo Verde Airlines, and it represents is an efficient public-private partnership´. Mr. Pololikashvili highlighted that ´Opening Skies in Africa will create new skills and generate new jobs for the upcoming 400 million young Africans expected by 2045.
The initial results of the UNWTO Visa Openness Report 2019 for Africa which was launched at the event includes the analysis of visa policies and progress made in visa facilitation over the past 10 years, supporting destinations with evidence-based policy making and helping prioritize activities within their facilitation policies; Visa policies are among the most important governmental formalities influencing international tourism, and closely linked to the development of tourism.
Upon closing the event H.E. Mr. Ulisses Correia e Silva, Prime Minister of Cabo Verde, stressed that the recommendations from the three working days express a framework of structural commitments for the development of air transport and tourism in Africa. The Prime Minister urged African authorities to look at the development of connectivity with particular attention and welcomed the focus of the conference on air transport and tourism.
Dr. Olumuyiwa Benard Aliu, President of the ICAO Council and UNWTO Secretary General both agreed that this unique joint event between the two organizations is long due and is a testimony of the new dynamics that are taking shape between tourism and air transport in Africa.
The Chairperson of the African Union Commission, H.E. Moussa Faki Mahamat, acknowledged the importance of these two major sectors coming together to discuss and support the realization of the Single African Air Transport Market (SAATM) conveyed by Dr. Amani Abou-Zeid, Commissioner for Infrastructure and Energy of the African Union (AU) present at the event.
In his vote of thanks to the government of Cabo Verde on behalf of all the Ministers present, H.E. Charles Romel Banda, Minister of Tourism and Arts, Zambia and UNWTO Chairman of Executive Council, reiterated the importance and the political commitment that each member state attaches to policies related to Travel Facilitation in Africa.
The conference concluded with the approval and adoption of the Ministerial Declaration and Action Plan on Air Transport and Tourism Development in Africa. The conference saw the participation of 300 participants, including 21 Ministers of Tourism, Transport and Aviation from 34 Member States and 29 International organisations.