The World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) has signed an agreement to be the overall partner of the upcoming TourismAfrica conference in Geneva.
This is part of its ambitious and ongoing efforts to promote and aid tourism development in Africa as a major tool to help eradicate poverty on the continent.
The Forum will be held 10-15 September 2006 in Geneva (Switzerland). “We want to continue to be on the frontline in creating jobs and fighting poverty in Africa which has so much potential as a tourism destination,” said UNWTO Secretary-General Francesco Frangialli.
“We have seen in other regions of the world just how much tourism can help in economic development and certainly Africa has everything visitors want to experience - natural beauty, fascinating cultures, incredible wildlife, adventure travel, etc”.
Within a broader framework of achieving the Millennium Development Goals, one of the UNWTO’s main tasks is to assist Least Developed Countries, such as those in Africa, in promoting their tourism product as an instrument of development through training, education and support service programmes, like the STEP (Sustainable Tourism Eliminating Poverty).programme.
Tourism industry professionals from around the world will gather 10-15 September in Geneva to participate in the first TourismAfrica 2006, an event aimed at boosting leisure travel and sector investment.
In the accord signed with Strategic Business Meeting S.A., the UNWTO recognized the important role tourism plays in African development and agreed to be the overall Strategic Partner of the event.
Last month, the Madrid-headquartered organisation agreed a long-term e-tourism partnership with Microsoft to expand information communications technology in the tourism sector with a special focus on Africa.
At TourismAfrica2006, the UNWTO will continue its emphasis on e-tourism when Geoffrey Lipman, Special Advisor to the UNWTO Secretary-General, hosts an interactive panel discussion on new technologies and their role in development, as well as business opportunities in Africa.
The UNWTO is co-organising a day-long conference titled “International Tourism: A Wealth of Opportunities for the Least Developed Countries”. Speakers will include the ministers from seven African nations.
UNWTO Secretary-General Francesco Frangialli will also preside the TourismAfrica«s inauguration. African governments view tourism as a major potential foreign exchange earner and job creator but they need help in getting the word out on the continent’s myriad attractions to boost arrivals.
According to current assessment by the UNWTO, the number of visitors to the continent is expected to rise to 47 million a year in 2010 and to 77 million in 2020.
Organisers said TourismAfrica’s main goals are fostering financing and investment of tourism projects, promoting tourism destinations and activities in Africa and preserving the region’s unique heritage.
National tourism offices, international financial institutions, airlines, hotel chains, major tour operators and travel agencies have been invited to the strategic business meeting.