African tourism ministers highlight green tourism and connectivity for tourism growth

Tourism ministers and officials from a number of African countries on Monday joined a tourism roundtable here, highlighting green tourism, connectivity, among others, for Africa’s tourism growth.

An African ministerial roundtable with the theme of tackling challenges for future investments in Africa’s tourism industry was held in Cape Town International Conference Center during the three-day World Travel Market Africa, where the officials participated in-person or virtually.

There are only about 70 million travelers among Africa’s 1.3 billion people while only 26 African cities are connected to international standards, thus, African countries need to improve connectivity by air and open up their sky to establish a domestic market, said Najib Balala, Cabinet Secretary for Tourism and Wildlife of Kenya.

In this way, airfare can be affordable and Africa will be able to move from an expensive destination to an affordable destination, not only for foreigners but also for domestic people, according to Balala, who also suggested relaxing visa regimes in Africa.

People stand by a robot at a hotel chain’s booth during World Travel Market Africa in Cape Town, South Africa, on April 11, 2022.  (Xinhua/Lyu Tianran)

Ministers also spoke of the need of “going green” in the tourism sector. Botswana looks at sustainability as a key to facilitating the growth of tourism sector, said Botswana Minister of Environment, Natural Resources, Conservation and Tourism, Philda Kereng.

“We have to conserve and preserve national resources, on the base of which we are developing and serving products,” she said, adding that the southern African country has revised its tourism policy to make it responsive and resilient to climate change.

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“Going green is the way for tourism development that is based on the natural resources,” she said.

The Kenyan minister also said that Africa could utilize its vast solar energy potential and become a leader in green tourism.

The participants also talked about the need for an African coordinated COVID-19 protocol framework, digitalization in the tourism sector and a central financing institution for tourism.

World Travel Market Africa includes a business-to-business tourism exhibition and other events, to bring benefits and opportunities to travel professionals in Africa.

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