Elcia Grandcourt

Elcia Grandcourt - Africa News Issue 22

Dear Esteemed readers,

As we begin another exciting year, I am pleased to share with you some of the remarkable strides and exciting initiatives that are transforming the African tourism landscape. To mark the 10th anniversary of this Newsletter, I will delve into the rebound of the sector post-pandemic and will look at the realigned UNWTO Agenda for Africa – Tourism for Inclusive Growth, along with a glimpse into the exciting year ahead.

Strong Rebound Post-COVID 

Despite the challenges posed by the pandemic, the African tourism sector has demonstrated unwavering resilience. International arrivals surged to 84% of pre-pandemic levels between January and July 2023, marking a significant milestone in our recovery journey. Africa, in particular, has been a standout performer, achieving an impressive 92% of pre-pandemic levels, thanks in no small part to the rapid resurgence of countries in North Africa, of our Small Island Developing States (SIDS), and beyond, with some countries recording double digit tourism growth in the first six months of the year alone. Within the next few days, we will share with you the first UNWTO World Tourism Barometer of 2024. I have every confidence that it will further illustrate the rapid and remarkable recovery of African tourism from the impacts of the worst crisis in our sector’s history.  

Survey Insights and Agenda Realignment 

Our commitment to shaping a sustainable future for African tourism led us to conduct comprehensive surveys, resulting in the realignment of the UNWTO Agenda for Africa-Tourism for inclusive Growth. From promoting innovation and technology to advocating for Brand Africa, travel facilitation and air connectivity, to unlocking growth through strategic investments – the agenda now stands as a robust roadmap for inclusive growth. In addition to the core priorities, the results of the surveys revealed new areas for us to focus on, including tourism governance, human capital development, product diversification and niche markets, and tourism infrastructure. 

25th UNWTO General Assembly Highlights  

A pivotal event that underscored our collective achievements was the 25th UNWTO General Assembly (GA) in Samarkand, Uzbekistan, from 16 to 20 October 2023, marked by Africa's active involvement and significant contributions to key leadership roles. The assembly saw the election of Algeria and the United Republic of Tanzania as Vice Presidents of the GA, with the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Zambia representing the region on the credentials committee. Meanwhile, Mauritius assumed the role of chairing the Regional Commission for Africa, with Nigeria and Kenya as Vice Chairs. The UNWTO Executive Council welcomed new members; Ghana, DRC, Namibia, Nigeria, and Rwanda, with DRC notably assuming the role of the first Executive Council Vice-Chair for 2024, adding a further layer of distinction to our regional representation. Our active participation in various committees solidified Africa's influence across key domains. Notably, African nations took on crucial roles in shaping global policies, with Kenya and Morocco contributing to the Programme and Budget Committee, Kenya and Zimbabwe dedicated to Tourism and Sustainability, Kenya and Zambia driving Tourism and Competitiveness, and Morocco and Seychelles overseeing Statistics. 

Furthermore, Algeria proudly represented Africa in the Committee on Matters Related to Affiliate Members, ensuring our region's perspectives and interests are well-represented. In the Taskforce on Redesigning Tourism for the Future, Côte d'Ivoire and Senegal offered invaluable insights, underscoring Africa's commitment to shaping the future of global tourism. These appointments reflect not only the collective strength of African nations but also our unwavering dedication to influencing positive change on the global stage. 

Collaborative Initiatives and Groundwork in 2023 

Throughout 2023 we fostered collaboration with regional economic communities, conducted virtual workshops, and organized the 66th UNWTO Regional Commission Meeting for Africa from 26 to 28 July on Rethinking Tourism for Africa: Addressing Global challenges and Promoting Investment and partnerships which culminated in the adoption of the Mauritius Declaration on a new Path for Africa tourism through Global Partnership and investment. Our continued partnership with West African Economic and Monetary Union (UEMOA) underlines our key engagement towards capacity-building and a testament on safety and security in the region through the two recent online trainings workshops held on 28-29 September and 30 November-1 December 2023. 

In addition, the first Communications, Media and Tourism Training Workshop in Africa  held in Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe, 13-15 November provided participants with effective communication strategies aimed to promote tourism as a key driver for development.  Furthermore, the renewal of the MOU with the African Airlines Association (AFRAA) and the recent signing of the MOU with the African Civil Aviation Commission (AFCAC) underscores our shared commitment to travel facilitation, air connectivity, and visa processes. 

Climate Action, Partnerships, and Affiliation 

Our commitment to climate action is echoed through the Glasgow Declaration on Climate Action for Tourism and the UNWTO One Planet Programme on circular economy. In addition, we invite you to strengthen public-private partnerships and consider joining the UNWTO affiliate membership. 

Looking Ahead  

Over the year ahead, our focus will be to reinforce the priorities of the agenda with a strong focus on education, investment, advocating brand Africa, travel facilitation, and above all training and capacity-building with a strong commitment to supporting our member states, fostering collaborations, and guiding the sector towards a future of prosperity and shared benefits. 

As we begin a new year, with refreshed hope and determination, I look forward to working with you all to deliver on tourism’s enormous potential for people and communities right across Africa.  

Elcia Grandcourt

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