|Tourism has the potential to integrate Africa|
|Wednesday, 23 May 2012 08:58|
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VICTORIA Falls — Tourism has the potential to integrate the African continent and governments must fully take advantage of the sector to improve the livelihood of their people while at the same time, marketing what is best in Africa to the world, Vice President Joice Mujuru said yesterday.
Officially opening the 37th Africa Travel Association World Congress in Victoria Falls, VP Mujuru said there was no reason tourism led growth should continue to elude the continent when it was home to various tourist attractions.“Africa is now directing more of its energies towards poverty alleviation and enhancing socio-economic development. The aim is to achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), whose target date is just around the corner, in 2015. In that context, tourism is regarded as a fast growing industry that can contribute immensely to the eradication of poverty, achievement of the MDGs and integration of Africa. Hence, Africa in general and the SADC region in particular should take full advantage of this sector in a bid to improve the livelihood of the people,” she said.
She said although the figures of tourists arrivals into the continent were still as high as expected, there was a lot of potential which players in the industry can exploit.
According to the United Nations World Tourism Organisation statistics international tourist arrivals grew by 4,4 percent in 2011 to a total of 980 million, up from 939 million in 2010. Today tourism brings over 50 million (5,1 percent) people to Africa every year.
“While Africa is endowed with the most splendid natural resources and tourist attractions it is yet to realise its full potential and benefits from tourism,” she said.
“While the figures mentioned earlier might sound low, I am excited by the potential that exists. According to the projections of the UNWTO, Africa is expected to register the highest growth in both arrivals and receipts; hence the future of tourism is in Africa. The theme of this congress ‘African Tourism — Partnering for the Future’ could not have been more appropriate.”
She said the continent was endowed with abundant and impressive tourism attractions such as its wonderful and unspoilt natural resources, spectacular landscapes, impressive archaeological sites as well as rich history, heritage and different cultures that are yet to be explored by many of the global humankind.
VP Mujuru acknowledged ATA for hosting the congress in Zimbabwe and said this must present the opportunity for the world to see what the country offers.