The 23rd World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) Global Summit, themed “Building Bridges for a Sustainable Future,” witnessed a powerful show of unity and optimism as the Presidents of Rwanda, Tanzania, and the Vice President of Burundi took the stage to share their vision for Africa’s tourism industry.
The resounding message: the future of global travel and tourism lies in Africa, and the continent is ready to seize this opportunity.
In the opening remarks at the summit, President of Rwanda, Paul Kagame, emphasized how his country’s deliberate policies and actions have transformed Rwanda through the power of travel and tourism. “We imagined a Rwanda where anyone in the world would want to travel to, and that is why we identified tourism as an engine for economic growth, and we’ve not been disappointed,” he explained.
Kagame stressed that conservation was a crucial part of their strategy to build a sustainable future. Rwanda’s commitment to tourism extends to developing more infrastructure to host significant events, including sporting competitions.
Moreover, Kagame urged African countries to eliminate hurdles that hinder travel between nations, such as streamlining visa acquisition processes and possibly eliminating them for Africans. He reiterated the call for the implementation of the Single African Air Transport Market, which is key to fostering trade and travel. “We should not lose sight of our own continental market… Africa is the future of global tourism,” he declared.
President Samia Suluhu Hassan of Tanzania echoed these sentiments, highlighting the vital role tourism plays in her country’s economy. “In Tanzania, tourism contributes about 17.2% of our GDP and 25% of our total export earnings. While this is a massive contribution from one single source, it entails that Africa can leverage tourism to drive economic growth and create employment opportunities,” she emphasised.
She urged African nations to promote positive narratives about the continent, combating the prevalence of fake news. “Africa should tell its own story in its terms and set a positive narrative about our continent. We cannot afford to continue remaining silent in this era of fake news; we should stand up and put the reports straight – Africa is not only the future, it is now,” she said.
The three-day WTTC Global Summit has assembled global tourism leaders and media in Kigali to connect, network, share knowledge, and discuss and chart new trends for global tourism. This event represents a significant step towards realizing the immense potential of African tourism, uniting countries to create a brighter future for the entire continent.