Those who haven’t already folded up are merely hanging on by the thread. Taking her turn on the VA Tourism Podcast, Republic of Congo’s Tourism and Environment Minister, Arlette Soudan-Nonault said that they have mapped a strategy that takes into cognizance the plight of their local tourism SMEs to provide relief to them.
“Within the framework of the SMEs, we have set up a plan to revive the tourism sector which is in the process of being validated, we are also looking for a lot of financing and we have a place of choice which is reserved for the management of financing for these small and medium enterprises,” she said
Tourism, she mentioned is a priority sector for the diversification of the Republic of Congo’s economy. The SMEs are therefore beneficiaries of what is called a Business Development and Competitiveness Support Project – a sizeable support financed by the World Bank. It was launched in the course of 2020 and sets up a competition with a business plan to encourage the growth of SMEs in the sector. This requires tourism industry
players with projects to bid for support. This project, therefore, targets Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises and provide assistance for the construction, animation and promotion of tourism in Congo.
Mrs Soudan-Nonault averred that “Within my ministry, our study and planning departments are therefore in charge of guiding the companies of the tourist sector to have access to funds according to the specifications laid down. The government therefore provides institutional and regulatory support tools, a guarantee and support in terms of research for financing.”
The Minister revealed that they would additionally set up a specific instrument for the tourism sector with the aim of creating a guarantee fund to support the entire chain of companies in the sector. Besides leading the country’s tourism sector, Soudan-Nonault serves as the Technical Coordinator of the Congo Basin Climate Commission with President Sassou Nguesso as its head.
The Mother of four and trained journalist said that with her very demanding portfolios she still manages to balance her work schedules with family life. “At the centre of it all is a good family balance. I have been married for more than 20 years with 4 wonderful daughters and the two eldest are already in active life. This little beautiful world around me with the extended family provides balance,” she reiterated.
The Minister also cited her employees as a big source of inspiration in carrying out her duties. She said, “So I made a bet to work with a young team, the youngest of which is 21 years old and occupies a very sensitive position. It’s not age that determines competence but rather the quality of work. I, therefore, base my work on merit. It took me four and a half years in government to set up a dynamic team under my supervision.
I am the twenty-fourth Minister of Tourism and until now there was no regulatory framework in the tourism industry. The perpetual challenges inspired by the president’s vision and expectations give us this positive enthusiasm to go further and innovate.”
Mrs Soudan-Nonault commended Zurab Pololikashvili, the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) Secretary-General for his particular interest in Africa’s tourism and for showing leadership since the inception of the Coronavirus pandemic.
“He is doing a great job and due to his determination, he is taking a new impetus that supports African countries. Mr Pololikashvili has an excellent programme for Africa which we have adopted and my wish is that this programme can
become a reality as soon as possible,” she posited.
The Original Story was first published in the December Issue of VoyagesAfriq Travel Magazine