African ministers on Tuesday called on African governments to liberalise tourism policies to make it easy for tourists and operators to move through the continent in order to enhance the tourism growth.
They made the remarks while speaking at a panel session dubbed: “Unlocking Africa’s Tourism Potential” during the 41st Annual World Tourism Conference that opened on Monday in Rwanda’s capital city Kigali with a focus on promoting tourism as an engine for economic growth and job creation across Africa.
Rwanda hosts the high level global meeting from August 28 to 31, under the auspices of the Africa Travel Association (ATA), a division of the Corporate Council on Africa (CCA) and the Rwanda Development Board (RDB). It is the first time that ATA’s Tourism Conference is hosted in the small central African country.
“Africa still grapples with intra-continental movement issues, which hamper tourism growth. Our governments should liberalise tourism policies through regional cooperation on easing visa restrictions and implementing open sky policies, if we are to move a step ahead globally in terms of tourism prosperity,” said Tokozile Xasa, South Africa’s Minister of Tourism.
She added that liberalisation of the Africa skies will impact not only the growth of tourism, but also trade, investment, productivity, employment and economic growth.
Xasa’s remarks were echoed by Zimbabwe’s Minister of Tourism Walter Mzembi, who emphasised that African governments have to decide whether to ease visa restrictions and open up their airspace to competition or continue hindering the growth of tourism sector.
“Our governments should try to ease policies that drive the growth of the economic growth of the continent,” said the minister.
The conference has brought together African tourism ministers, industry professionals representing tourism boards, destination representatives, travel agents, tour operators, ground operators, airlines, hotels and accommodations, service providers, and travel media to set the stage for how tourism can be utilised as an engine for economic growth across Africa, according to organisers.
The four-day conference will primarily dwell on innovative business models, new technologies and strategic partnerships.
The event will also provide a platform to network and explore new tourism markets and products including the promotion and preservation of Africa’s rich cultural heritage and wildlife. – Xinhua.