ARUSHA, Tanzania (eTN) – The Africa Travel Association (ATA) 33rd Congress opened in here in Tanzania’s northern tourist town of Arusha on Monday with an emphasis to promote African tourism in the global competitive markets.
Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete told some 300 ATA Congress delegates that Africa is still lacking behind in global tourism shares because of poor resources shared among African countries.
He said Africa’s share in global tourist business is small despite that the continent has been blessed with abundant natural tourist attractions.
Africa expects to receive 47 million tourists in 2010 with expectations to record about 77 million tourists in 2020, but the number is too small compared to its abundant and unbeatable attractions, the president told the delegates.
Comparatively, Africa lacks behind compared to the global share of 1 billion and 1.6 billion tourists during the same period.
Africa had as well, remained behind in tourism development because of poor resources and underdeveloped infrastructure, which for decades, hampered traveling within and outside the continent.
He said Africa badly needed developed infrastructure and accessibility to global travel markets, mostly the American and European market outlets.
Air connection in Africa has been a permanent setback in tourism development among the countries. “Traveling from one African nation to another is difficult that one may have to go to Europe in order to get air connection to another country located within the boundaries of the continent,” Mr. Kikwete told ATA delegates.
Negative media picture of Africa as the continent doomed with diseases, wars, poverty and ignorance has discouraged tourists from visiting the continent.
Giving hopes to Africa, ATA executive director Eddie Bergman said his association remains fully committed to promote African tourist destinations.
He said the continent shows positive trends in tourism development and there are encouraging commitments from African governments towards tourism development and support to foreign investors.
ATA had set up strategies to support African nations to build their tourism through various means including the media and communications, Eddie told congress delegates.