Message of Elcia Grandcourt, UN Tourism Regional Director for Africa

Message of Elcia Grandcourt, UN Tourism Regional Director for Africa

Dear Esteemed readers, 

“Bringing the world closer” UN Tourism new tagline puts people at the center of what we do as well as solidifies our role as the premier global authority driving tourism for sustainable development. 

With a renewed commitment to prioritizing both "people and planet," we are forging ahead with renewed optimism and determination towards increasing growth and shaping the future of tourism. 

It is so encouraging to witness a remarkable surge in the recovery of Africa´s tourism. Despite the ongoing economic and geopolitical challenges, the continent's tourism sector is regaining momentum. Africa's resurgence reflects a remarkable 96% recovery of pre-pandemic visitors in 2023, surpassing international tourism with 88%. This is fueled by robust pent-up demand, particularly from European markets, whereby countries such as Ethiopia (+30%), Tanzania (+20%), and Morocco (+11%) have surpassed their 2019 visitor numbers. 

As we implement the realigned UN Agenda for Africa - Tourism for inclusive Growth, our focus remains steadfast on promoting inclusive growth through education, investment, product diversification, innovation, and digital and technological transformation. From advocating Brand Africa to enhancing travel facilitation and air connectivity, our strategic initiatives aim to unlock the continent's tourism potential and foster sustainable development.  

In addition, we are leading various projects based on the demand for technical assistance from several member states on tourism statistics, hotel classification, human capital development and tourism development strategy, and more. Through collaborative partnerships and south-south cooperation, we are able to better respond and help build resilience and the competitiveness of the African tourism sector. 

We continue to collaborate with key partners in advocacy in the region such as through the Single African Air Transport Market (SAATM) which plays a pivotal role in opening up new destinations and driving tourism growth in Africa. By facilitating easier air travel across the continent, SAATM promotes accessibility to previously underserved regions as well as boosting regional trade and integration, unlocking their tourism potential and fostering economic development. As we continue to advocate for SAATM implementation and the African Continental Free Trade Area (AFCFTA), we envision a future where travelers can seamlessly explore diverse African landscapes and cultures, contributing to the continent's overall prosperity. 

Looking ahead, 2024 promises to be a year of groundbreaking initiatives and collaborative endeavors. Zambia's upcoming hosting of the 2nd UN Tourism Regional Conference on Brand Africa underscores our commitment to catalyzing tourism investments and promoting the continent as a premier destination. Additionally, our focus on gastronomy tourism as a driver of inclusive growth will be highlighted at the First UN Tourism Regional Forum on Gastronomy Tourism in Zimbabwe, Victoria Falls, providing a platform for industry experts to chart a sustainable path forward. 

The 67th Meeting of the UN Tourism Commission for Africa in the People's Democratic Republic of Algeria will serve as a pivotal forum for shaping the region's tourism agenda and fostering dialogue among key stakeholders. Through continued collaboration with sub-regional economic communities and United Nations Country teams (UNCT), we will continue to mainstream tourism as a game changer for sustainable and inclusive development. 

As we navigate the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead, our unwavering commitment remains to harness the full potential of tourism for the benefit of people and communities across Africa. With a renewed sense of hope and purpose, let us work together to realize a future where tourism serves as a catalyst for prosperity and shared success. 

Thank you for your continued support and partnership. Together, let us embark on this journey towards a brighter and more sustainable future for African tourism. 

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