The 62nd UNWTO Regional Commission for Africa (CAF) held within the context of the 23rd session of the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) General Assembly in Saint Petersburg, Russian Federation, from 9 to 13 September 2019,attracted a high number of key tourism stakeholders from both the public and private sector from the region and globally. A total of around 35 member states including 22 Ministers of Tourism, Ambassadors, Charge d affairs a. i and other high ranking contributors in the tourism sector joined for this very important gathering.
Africa has continued to show her resilience in tourism development over the last decade. Against this backdrop, 2018 closed with a robust up growth of 7% which translates to 67 million international tourist arrivals thanks to lesser travel advisories, improved security and more air connectivity. While reiterating this factor, the UNWTO Secretary-General, Mr. Zurab Pololikashvili noted that Africa still faces important challenges in data coverage and collection, and thus he encourages countries to put more focus in this area.
“Our core priority is to create more jobs, educate the youth and make tourism more futuristic and smarter” he added. “Tourism growth should be anchored on innovation, entrepreneurship and education. The urgency of finding innovative approaches to diversifying tourism systems in the region as a channel of job creation and poverty alleviation is a reality”. The ten point Agenda for Africa– Tourism for inclusive growth is the catalyst blueprint to achieve this reality through development and stimulation of joint activities and new partnerships. The Secretary-General in his remarks highlighted that digitalization, new business models, more affordable travel and societal changes are expected to continue shaping the sector, and thus both destination and companies need to adapt if they want to remain competitive.
The agenda of the 62nd CAF meeting also included nominations and elections to statutory organs of the organisation and their subsidiary bodies as well as events.. These elections and nominations are critical roles that member states are entrusted with to represent the region when their respective meetings are called.
A positive drive has been seen whereby member states are keenly seeking these roles and also ensuring that representation to the statutory organs and the subsidiary bodies reflect a fair distribution and representation of all regions within Africa. Two major decisions included members agreeing to the candidature of Cote D´Ivoire to be the next host of the World Tourism Day activities in 2021 and Seychelles to host the 63rd CAF meeting in 2020. Another important decision taken at the 23rd General Assembly was for the hosting of the 24th General Assembly which will take place in Africa in the beautiful city of Marrakech, Morocco in 2021.