17 February 2013

Tourism integration in Africa on the agenda at Meetings Africa

African ambassadors represented in South Africa will gather at Meetings Africa on 19 February 2013 to discuss tourism integration in Africa.

Tokozile Xasa, South Africa's Deputy Minister of Tourism Tokozile Xasa, South Africa's deputy minister of tourism

Our aim is to work with business events partners on the African continent. We want more global and African associations to use the great resources Africa has to bolster business event hosting and delivery. – Tokozile Xasa, South African deputy minister of tourism

Tokozile Xasa, South Africa's deputy minister of tourism, said the ‘Tourism Integration in Africa’ discussion will focus on the Meetings Africa theme of ‘Advancing Africa Together’.

The discussion, which has been dubbed the ‘African Interaction on Tourism’, will look at the kind of co-operation, coordination and integration needed to best advance the goals of growth and development of tourism in Africa.

It will centre on coming up with a framework for the African continent to brand tourism, and look at ways of improving how the continent packages and markets its products.

‘Our aim is to work with our business events partners on the African continent. We want more global and African associations to use the great resources Africa has to bolster business event hosting and delivery,’ she said.

Xasa added that the acceleration of Africa’s regional integration was imperative for its future economic competitiveness, development and prosperity. ‘Essential to this is the development of skills, infrastructure and inter-connectivity, intra-regional trade, common markets, and the removal of trade barriers,’ she said.

She explained that integration allowed for economies of scale that could increase competitiveness and faster growth. 

‘Regional economic cooperation and integration offers an opportunity for regional industries to overcome the limits of small national markets and enhance competitiveness as a platform to participate in the global economy. Tourism is a key element in the promotion of growth, socio-economic development and unity in Africa,’ she continued.

She added that the time had come to embark on activities that supported better tourism policies in Africa, and created employment opportunities through increased investment in, and marketing of, African destinations.

South African Tourism’s African Hub Strategy is to open several country offices at strategic points in Africa. The organisation opened an office in Angola in 2011, will open an office in Kenya in the current fiscal and will also be opening an office in Nigeria in the foreseeable future. 

‘Also critical will be partnerships with other government departments such as transport, public enterprises and home affairs to facilitate air links and the movement of tourists to South Africa from these regional hubs,’ she said.

According to Xasa, the African Union planned to exploit the tourism sector in its bid to improve the livelihoods of the continent’s people and market what is best of Africa to the world.

‘Tourism is regarded as a fast-growing industry that is likely to contribute significantly to the eradication of poverty, achievement of the Millennium Development Goals, and assist with the integration of Africa,’ she concluded.

According to the figures released by the United Nations World Tourism Organisation in October 2012, international tourist arrivals in Africa grew from 26-million arrivals in 2000 to 50-billion in 2011.