Africa launches tourism sector awards


(TVLW) – Investors in Kenya’s fast-growing tourism industry have a new platform to measure their performance against African competitors, thanks to the launch of continental awards to be held next year.

Organised by the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) in collaboration with Africa Investor magazine, the awards will recognise achievements in seven main facets of the industry.

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UNWTO assistant secretary general Geoffrey Lipman said the awards are open to private and public companies and organisations in Africa’s tourism sector. Tour, hotel and entertainment operators, tourism infrastructure providers, airlines, NGOs and government agencies are among industry players earmarked for the awards.

The Tourism Investor Awards will be presented at a gala to be held in February in Johannesburg, South Africa — in the run up to the 2008 Business Tourism Conference. Investors have until January to place their entries.

Africa’s tourism sector is growing at the rate of 10 per cent per annum compared to the global average of 5.6 per cent, according to UNWTO Tourism Barometer. This growth is expected to continue in the next decade and by 2020 the African market share of arrivals is expected to have doubled.

Speaking during the inauguration of the awards, Prof Lipman said Africa could harness its comparative advantage in wildlife, nature, heritage and climate to broaden its share of the global tourism market.

“This advantage could boost the countries to compete in the sector and help fight poverty,” he said. Improved infrastructure and communication networks, privatisation of state assets as well as new investments in tourism have been some of the key drivers of growth.

Analysts say the growth has also been helped by increased air travel capacity that has opened the continent to more visitors. There are 38 foreign carriers linking Africa with the rest of the world. Organisers say the awards will showcase the continent’s opportunities and achievements to the rest of the world.

“These awards are designed to recognise and reward groups that have made an outstanding contribution to the growth of sustainable tourism investment in Africa,” Prof Lipman said.

The awards are part of the Africa Investor Investment Awards, which reward exceptional business practices, economic achievements and investment. The prizes recognise outstanding achievements in the areas of banking, sustainable investing in Africa, infrastructure deal of the year, smart regulation and best initiative in support of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

The awards also recognise the best business woman of the year and African and international business leader of the year.