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African tourism leaders debate the role of the sector as a tool for inclusive growth and community engagement

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The potential of Tourism in poverty alleviation and to induce transformative change has been addressed in Lusaka, capital city of Zambia, in the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) Conference on Promoting Sustainable Tourism, a Tool for Inclusive Growth and Community Engagement in Africa.

The Conference, a flagship event of the Africa region for the celebration of the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development, took place last 16-18 November and was coordinated by the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) in cooperation with the Government of Zambia. 

According to UNWTO statistical data, the African continent had an increase of international arrivals of 8% in 2016, compared to the previous year. This, together with the increasing commitment of African governments to position tourism in their agenda, reveals the gaining prominence of the sector as well as its strong potential to foster positive change and transformation.

The Conference that was preceded by a technical workshop to revise strategies and approaches to develop sustainable tourism initiatives in the African continent, tackled these issues as well as the potential of sustainable tourism to lead policies to foster communities inclusion.  The summit was attended by more than 200 international and local participants from Angola, Egypt, Jordan, Cabo Verde, Guinea Equatorial Kenya, Mali, Republic of Congo, Sudan, Switzerland, Spain, Union of the Comoros, Malawi, Seychelles, South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

The event commenced with a Ministerial Dialogue on Tourism, Inclusive Growth and Sustainable Development in the African continent, attended by Charles Banda, Minister of Tourism and Arts of Zambia, Ronald Chitotela, Minister of Housing and Infrastructure Development of Zambia, Taleb Rifai, UNWTO Secretary-General, Fatuma Hirsi Mohamed, Principal Secretary of the Ministry of Tourism of Kenya, Abdelgadir Dmein Hassan Undersecretary of the Ministry of Tourism, Antiquities and Wildlife of Sudan and Dorothy Tembo, Deputy Executive Director at the International Trade Center. The session was moderated by Brownyn Nielsen, Editor-in-Chief at CNBC Africa who invited the attendees to showcase sustainable tourism practices in the region and how the sector could help achieve the SDGs and generate benefits for African societies.

The framework of the Agenda 2030 and the Sustainable Development Goals were defined together with the African Union Agenda 2063 as the best scenario to foster sustainable tourism in the continent.

Precisely to this green, responsible and eco-friendly tourism was dedicated the intervention of Charles Banda, Minister of Tourism and Arts of Zambia who emphasized that “sustainability is believed to be the link between the present and the future. As patrons of the tourism sector our role is to ensure that even our children’s children experience the same nature in the form that it currently is and not in a worse off state.”

As commented by Edgar Chagwa Lungu, President of the Republic of Zambia, the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development is a unique opportunity to highlight the importance of the tourism sector and to promote activities to enhance the contribution of the sector for national economies. The President emphasized the capacity of tourism to contribute to local development and stated that “the Lusaka Declaration is an important milestone in the Agenda 2030 and towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals and in the recognition of tourism as an essential development pillar.”

UNWTO Secretary-General Taleb Rifai, who congratulated Zambia for hosting the Conference as member of the UNWTO Executive Council and Chair for 2019, highlighted that the current world is facing major transformations namely the digital revolution, connecting our minds virtually and globally, the urban revolution, connecting our life style and our livelihoods and the travel revolution connecting us physically and culturally “Today, the world is at a major transformation juncture, rapid and fast change is the essence of our time. The three global forces are leading this transformation”, he added. During his visit, Rifai also declared the South Luangwa National Park of Zambia as a sustainable park.

Partnerships, technology and wildlife conservation at the core

The sessions were organized into four panels tackling Public-Private Partnership, the Role of Technology in the development of tourism, Wildlife conservation and Community Engagement and Air Connectivity in Africa.

The final outcome of the conference was the Lusaka Declaration on Promoting Sustainable Tourism Development, a Tool for Inclusive Growth and Community Engagement in Africa. The document, which places sustainability at the core of tourism development and on national and international development agendas, was adopted unanimously by all participants.

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Tourism

Google partners with UNWTO on Digital Skills Development

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Fostering knowledge, education and growth in tourism, is at the centre of a partnership announced today between Google and the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO). Google will support UNWTO members in addressing the new digital trends and transformation challenges faced by tourism and needed by the sector, to fully harness its development potential and contribution to sustainability.

Digital skills are crucial for competitiveness in tourism, a sector characterized by technological change and the generation of new business models.

“This agreement with Google coincides with UNWTO’s special focus on education, skills development and jobs, the connecting thread of all our actions this year”, said UNWTO Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashvili. “Google is an affiliate member of UNWTO and this partnership proves the importance of public-private collaboration to advance tourism as a vehicle for sustainable development”, he added.

Lutz Behrendt, Travel Industry Leader, from Google  said: “More than half of tourism revenue in the EU is now researched or booked online. By equipping tourism ministries with the skills, tools and programmes they need to market and protect themselves online, we hope it will increase opportunities for jobs and revenue across the industry. Following a similar tourism programme we ran in Greece, 68% of participating businesses confirmed they saw concrete business results following our training, such as more visitors to their website or physical business.”

A High-Level Dialogue on Digital Skills in Tourism set the backdrop for announcing the agreement. Organized by UNWTO with the support of Google during ITB Berlin, the world`s leading travel trade fair, the event underscored that digital skills development remain a major priority for destinations around Europe.

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Overtourism? New UNWTO Report Offers Case Studies to Tackle Challenges

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The World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) released today the report ‘Overtourism’? Understanding and Managing Urban Tourism Growth Beyond Perceptions: Case Studies’, choosing ITB Berlin as the fitting backdrop to address a pressing topic before the global tourism sector. The report provides examples of specific measures being implemented in cities across the Americas, Asia and the Pacific and Europe.

A total of 18 case studies assembled in the report are the follow-up to the general approach laid out in the previous publication ‘Overtourism’? – Understanding and Managing Urban Tourism Growth beyond Perceptions’. Launched in September 2018, it examines how to manage tourism in urban destinations to the benefit of visitors and residents alike, offering a wide range of strategies and measures for a better understanding and management of challenges and opportunities.

“Urban tourism is multifaceted and requires a city-wide strategy with cooperation between all stakeholders and the inclusion of tourism in the urban agenda”, said UNWTO Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashvili. “Sustainable and inclusive cities must mean creating cities for all: citizens, investors and visitors”, he addedd.

As acomplement to the conceptual approach, the report presented today looks into concrete case studies from Amsterdam, Antwerp, Barcelona, Berlin, Besalú, Cambridge, Dubrovnik, Edinburgh, Ghent, Hangzhou, London, Lucerne, Macao (China), New York, Lisbon, Seoul, Porto, Prague and Venice,.

The examples show that there is no ‘one-size fits all’ measure to tackle overtourism, and that any successful destination management strategy needs to be context specific. Although this might not come as a surprise, there is a connecting thread between the fundamental challenges: congestion in specific locations and sites at specific moments, mobility, pressure on infrastructure and resources, decrease in ‘place’ authenticity and impact on social fabrics and residents daily lives.

Consequently, the most common measures currently being implemented by destinations relate to the dispersal of visitors within the city and beyond, showing the pressing need to manage tourism congestion in certain areas and attractions. Measures with the aim of improving the city infrastructure and facilities are also frequently mentioned, reflecting the fact that many challenges are linked not only to the growing number of visitors but also to the pressure placed by residents, commuters and tourists on the city’s resources and services.

The Overtourism reports were produced in collaboration with the Centre of Expertise Leisure, Tourism & Hospitality (CELTH), Breda University of Applied Sciences, and the European Tourism Futures Institute (ETFI) of NHL Stenden University of Applied Sciences.

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Tourism: Women Taking the Lead

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To mark International Women’s Day 2019 UNWTO, in collaboration with UN Women, the German Cooperation Agency (GIZ), World Bank Group and Amadeus, has today released preliminary findings of the Global Report on Women in Tourism, Second Edition.

ITB Berlin, the world’s leading trade fair, provided the backdrop to announcing The Global Report. The initial results indicate that across the private and public sectors women are harnessing the potential of tourism to become financially independent, challenge stereotypes and start their own businesses:

The majority of the tourism workforce worldwide is female

Tourism offers greater opportunities for women’s entrepreneurship than the wider economy

Tourism policies are increasingly addressing gender-equality

Research has also shown more and more women are challenging gender stereotypes in the sector. In Morocco women have been issued tour guide licenses for the first time. An airline in the UK has doubled the number of female pilots they employ. Uganda’s Hotel Owner’s Association is now lead by its first female CEO, Jean Byamugisha.

These are but a few examples which can be found around the world. Together, they add up to a growing trend.

Technology has also been an important factor for empowerment, providing women with more training opportunities and stimulating entrepreneurship through easier access to the tourism market.

In the public sphere, policy-makers are waking up to the importance of gender equality in tourism putting measures in place to ensure women fairly share the benefits that tourism can bring.

Speaking on these findings UNWTO Secretary-General, Zurab Pololikashvili, said that “tourism is leading the charge for female empowerment all over the world”.

He added: “UNWTO is firmly committed to working towards UN Sustainable Development Goal 5 – the empowerment of women and girls – and ensuring that tourism continues to be at the forefront of gender-equality efforts.”

UNWTO is compiling the second edition of the Global Report on Women in Tourism in collaboration with UN Women, GIZ, World Bank Group and Amadeus. These preliminary findings have been released to mark International Women’s Day 2019. The full report will be published in Autumn 2019.

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