For the past three years, international tourism has been booming. According to the World Tourism Organization, the number of international tourist arrivals in 2005 is estimated at over 800 million, a 5.5 per cent increase following the 10 per cent surge registered the preceding year. This despite wars, terror, oil price hikes and natural disasters. Global markets have shown great resilience and consumers have become better at weighing their options by delaying or diverting their travel rather than abandoning it.
Africa has been one of the strongest growth markets, with most destinations showing consistently above average increases in arrivals and receipts. Between 2000 and 2005, international tourist arrivals to Africa increased from 28 million to 40 million - an average growth of 5.6 % a year, compared to a worldwide 3.1 % a year. In the same period Africa’s International tourism receipts doubled from US$ 10.5 billion to US$ 21.3 billion.
Speaking at the inauguration of the Tourism Africa Exhibition, UNWTO Secretary General Francesco Frangialli said “This surge in African tourism clearly shows the great potential of our sector of the economy to help trade and development in the region and in so doing to make an important contribution to the Millennium Development Goals aimed at reducing poverty systemically by 2015 - particularly in Africa”
He added “Africa can have substantial comparative advantage with its wildlife, nature, heritage and climate. An advantage which could, if nurtured, allow the world’s poorest countries to compete in this dynamic export sector. We must link poverty reduction strategies with programs to strengthen access, infrastructure, info-technology, security, sustainability and quality systems.”
UNWTO has initiated a range of activities to advance Tourism to and within Africa - as an export, a socioeconomic driver and an instrument of development.
” A Sub-Saharan African Program
” A joint development strategy with the African Union
” A ST-EP program to link Sustainability and Poverty Elimination activities.
” A Liberalization with a Human Face approach for pro poor trade policies.
” An “Essential Tourism Development Route” plan with ICAO, to boost air services
” A Public Private Partnership with Microsoft to advance eTourism for Development
The Secretary General said that In this same spirit we are delighted to be the Strategic Partner for Tourism Africa to ensure that every year there is a special global focus on the opportunities and challenges for our sector in its efforts to support the Millennium Development Goals in Africa.