As the world joins Africa to celebrate the continent on this year’s Africa Day celebration on May 26, 2023, the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) has called on the need for sustained regional collaboration, harmonised policies, especially in aviation, in order to spur continued growth on the continent.
Zurab Pololikashvili, Secretary-General, UNWTO, made the call in his message on Africa Day 2023 celebration.
“At the same time, regional collaboration and harmonized aviation policies in line with the Single African Air Transport Market (SAATM) will help us achieve the objectives of the African Union’s Agenda 2063 and the UN Agenda 2030,” he said.
Speaking further, Pololikashvili noted that the removal of tariff barriers and the implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) would undoubtedly bring new opportunities for Africa while facilitating the free movement of individuals for business, work or for studies, would help reduce economic disparities between regions, and deliver more opportunities, particularly for the most vulnerable, including women, who form the majority of the tourism workforce in Africa.
The UNWTO chief said that Africa is being celebrated by the World for many reasons.
“Africa is home to the world’s youngest population, as well as to a rapidly expanding middle class. It is a vast and diverse continent, with vibrant cities and rich cultures.
“Africa is also a hub of entrepreneurship and innovation and boasts some of the most exciting tourism destinations on the planet,” Pololikashvili said.
He is also concerned that despite that tourism is a real lifeline for millions of people across Africa, the sector’s potential is still to be truly realized.
He urged that if managed properly, tourism can accelerate socio-economic recovery and growth, and it can spur wealth creation and inclusive development in Africa.
However, the UNWTO is working with Africa to spur growth by realigning its global tourism body’s agenda for Africa.
“In support of our member states responding to the current challenges of tourism, particularly the need for more trained workers, more decent jobs, and more and better-targeted tourism investments, we have also realigned our UNWTO Agenda for Africa: Tourism for Inclusive Growth.
“And above all, we will continue to advocate for tourism as a driver for positive change and a pillar of economic growth for the continent,” the secretary-general said.
On behalf of everyone at UNWTO, the secretary-general concluded saying, “I wish you all a happy Africa Day.”