By Théa Chiesa and Tiffany Misrahi*
Sub-Saharan Africa has been forecast to expand by 5.1% in 2011 and has a positive outlook for growth over the next years. Still, according to statistics from the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), Africa only accounts for 3.4% of global tourism receipts and 5.2% of tourist arrivals, despite constituting almost 15% of the world’s population.
Given the potential for a growing national travel and tourism sector to contribute to employment, raise national income and reduce poverty, Africa still has much space to fully reap the benefits offered by the travel and tourism sector. Against this background, over 60 global, regional and national aviation, travel and tourism leaders gathered in Cape Town on 3 May to address how to “Unlock Africa’s Travel & Tourism Potential”.
This one-day aviation, travel and tourism meeting was built on the initiative of the Global Agenda Council on Aviation, Travel & Tourism, who felt the need to tackle industry-specific issues from a regional perspective. The meeting was chaired by South Africa’s Tourism Minister, Marthinus van Schalkwyk, the Chair of the Global Agenda Council on Aviation, Travel & Tourism for 2010-2011. The meeting focused on key issues for Africa’s tourism industry, including competitiveness, inclusive growth, climate change, transport risk and consumer industry trends.
During the meeting, participants reiterated the need for innovative policies to stimulate an African travel and tourism renaissance. Competitive infrastructure, comprehensive engagement on climate change, public-private dialogue and new African brand management strategies were proposed as key elements of such policies. Due to the success of the meeting, the World Economic Forum, through its Aviation, Travel & Tourism Community and the Global Agenda Council on Aviation, Travel & Tourism, will replicate this initiative in the context of the World Economic Forum on East Asia, which will take place from 30 May to 1 June 2012 in Bangkok, Thailand.