Dr. Walter Mzembi launches major tourism project for Africa

Dr. Walter Mzembi launches major tourism project for Africa

Dr. Walter Mzembi, Minister of Tourism and Hospitality Industry for the Republic of Zimbanwe, launched UNCTAD Economic Development in Africa Report 2017 “Tourism For Transformative And Inclusive Growth” today:

The Officer in Charge – United Nations Information Centre, Ms. Tafadzwa Mwale;

The Director of Knowledge and Learning – African Capacity Building Foundation (ACBF), Dr. Thomas Chataghalala Munthali;

Members of Diplomatic Corps;

UN Agencies here represented;

All Dignitaries and Fellow Citizens

Tourism is the engine for not only Transformative Growth and Inclusive Growth in Africa, but the centre – piece for accelerated broad based empowerment of women and youth. The African Union adopted Agenda 2063, and in 2017, the AU adopted the theme: Harnessing the Demographic Dividend – which to me can succeed effectively if Africa exploits the inert potential in tourism.

Tourism worldwide is in the export category. It ranks third, behind only fuel and chemicals, and ahead of food products and automotive industry. In many developing countries such as Rwanda, tourism is the top export sector. It contributes 10% to Global GDP, generates 1.5 trillion USD in export earnings, employs 1 in every 11 globally, it accounts for 30% of total exports in services and it is 7% in quantum for all global trade. The sector has experience exponential growth from 25 Million international arrivals in 1950 to 1.2 Billion international arrivals in 2016.

Going forward to 2030 aligned to the SDGs timelines, the sector is signposting 1.8 Billion. However, we are likely to revise these figures on the back of fast growth of the Chinese outbound tourism market. The Chinese Premier last year cautioned us to prepare to receive 600 million Chinese tourists by 2020 globally from the projected growth of 200 million. China is currently the bulwark of outbound tourism with its ever growing middle class of over 300 million – and if anything, the projected 1.8 Billion international arrivals by 2030 could be an understatement of the reality of this sector’s growth potential. What it means – is Africa should prepare itself to receive the world.

In its wisdom, on the 4th of December 2016, the United Nations declared 2017 the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development. Thus, the launch of this report gives me more hope as it resonates with our celebration of 2017 the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development. In my campaign for post of Secretary General of the United Nations World Tourism Organisation, the results of which are all known to us, and I am happy to share with you that we missed the opportunity to lead the UNWTO by falling short of a mere two votes to Georgia. In my Statement of Policy Intent and Management – I emphasized in no particular order:

• Relevance of the organisation to its members, especially growing the tourism economy with equity across all regions.

• Reinstituting the Agency’s developmental mandate – and setting up a Global Tourism Fund being top priority to me.

• Universality: – which primarily focused on growing the membership of the organization – and align it to the 193 UN Members as opposed to the current 157 that are members of the UNWTO, and further to that bring on board countries such as the U.S.A, Britain, Australia and Canada that are currently outside the UNWTO, and to grow both Affiliate and Associate Membership, incorporating cities which are now important competitive sub-brands of tourism.

• Create more relevance of the Agency.

• Make UNWTO more inclusive – in dealing with global challenges together with other agencies e. g. dealing with issues related and not limited to Tourism and Security, Redefine insecurities to include natural disasters, Climate Change, Biodiversity terrorism on both terrestrial and marine resources, migration, travel advisories and travel bans, disasters and post disaster management and destination restorations etc.

• Make the UWTO more responsive: – Answer to membership expectations, respond expeditiously and practically to issues besetting the tourism sector. At the same time, motivate members’ active participation in global tourism policy formulation with inclusivity.

• Diplomacy – Use tourism as a tool for diplomacy in keeping with leveraging tourism to build cultural understanding across the globe and strengthen peace and co-existence among people and nations.

• Permanent representation: – meant to enhance the Agency’s international political recognition.
The race for the post will only be over once the UNWTO Secretary General Elect gets the required 2/3 confirmatory votes in September 2017, 22nd Session of the UNWTO General Assembly in Chengdu, the People’s Republic of China.

In the context of SDGs, we were assigned Sustainable Development Goals 8, 12 and 14.

Goal 8: Promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all;

Goal 12: Ensure sustainable consumption and production (SCP) patterns; and

Goal 14: Conserve and sustainably use of the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development, while having a multiplier effect on many other Goals.

This new development agenda to 2030 is the most ambitious to date, and embedded in all the 17 SGDs, are clear efforts that consign us to work towards poverty eradication, ensure sustainability, protect the planet, and ensure equality and prosperity for all.

The relationship between tourism and sustainability, inclusive growth with attendant transformative characteristics is underpinned by embracing new technology and innovation, ensuring seamless travel and security, and robust travel facilitation. Africa’s growth of all the glorious statistics I shared with you is a mere 3-5% of the global total of 1.2 Billion arrivals. Thus, the continent is the weakest link and we need to work hard to change the situation.
There is no doubt that tourism is a powerful vehicle for promoting and reaching development milestones, and I am pleased to note that Africa has huge potential if exploited to enhance tourism’s contribution to the economic, environmental and social dimensions of sustainability. Tourism contributes directly to employment creation, and this can be a solution to the problem of our young man and women having to risk their lives crossing the Mediterranean Sea and Island of Lampedusa going to Europe to look for similar jobs that can be created within Africa through investment in tourism, and retain our youth in the continent to contribute to productive work.

Africa has had its fair share of challenges chief among them: Diverse and prohibitive Visa Regimes; Destination Accessibility challenges; Continental Brand Hygienic issues; Insecurities; and Funding for competitive infrastructure development – so critical to connect destinations to markets and capital (connectography) in order to ensure a successful tourism economy.

To achieve sustainability and success of the tourism sector in Africa, we are ceased under the AU Agenda 2063 with the consummation of a continental tourism policy and institutionalisation, dealing with Brand Africa, Liberalisation of the airspace through the implementation of the 1998 Yamoussoukro Declaration. We are also implementing Universal Visa Systems (UNIVISA), building more hotels, airports and resorts in order to improve tourism business and trade in Africa. At the same time, we are ceased with sustainable management and conservation of both marine and terrestrial natural resources. According to the UNWTO Study on ‘Towards Measuring the Economic Value of Wildlife Watching Tourism in Africa’ nature related activities accounts for over 80% of Africa’s product offering and attraction.

Thus, we are conscious of sustainable management of our natural resources to remain relevant and competitive as a continent. More importantly, we are also paying attention to matters related to tourism and security so that we guarantee safety and peace to our visitors. In my view, tourism essentially serves the planet as well as people – thus we are conscious on our sector to alert to climate change issues, mitigation and adaptation of the sector to avoid the risks that can degrade our product offering and competitiveness.

The Report shared to us today by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) regarding Economic Development in Africa 2017 with the primary focus on ‘Tourism for Transformative and Inclusive Growth’, resonates with our various efforts at both national and international levels as we seek to maximise this sector’s potential to sustainable development. The results show great potential – a source of hope to all of us. At the same time, it identifies gaps – which in themselves represent strong cases needing attention from both the public and private sector to work as a collective in addressing these challenges.

Ladies and Gentleman, it is my singular honour and privilege, to declare the UNCTAD Economic Development in Africa Report 2017, Tourism for Transformative and Inclusive Growth launched.

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