Final report from the Africa-Asia Summit

On the last day of the proceedings, experts from the participating governments agreed on the wording of the respective policy recommendations for sustainable development and the promotion of tourism in Africa. This column received a copy during the press conference rounding up the summit, which was hailed by participants from Asia and Africa as a sound success. The Ugandan organizers from the Ministry of Tourism, Trade, and Industry and the Uganda Tourist Board were praised for their fine preparations and the logistical support during the summit, held at the Speke Resort and Conference Centre in Munyonyo, Kampala.


Participants from 20 African countries and 6 Asian countries, including representatives of the private and public sector, met in Kampala, Uganda for the Fifth Africa–Asia Business Forum (AABF V) from June 15-17, 2009 in order to discuss, within the context of the Fourth Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD IV) Yokohama Action Plan, the issues and challenges currently confronting the tourism industry across the continent of Africa and to learn from the experiences of partner countries and organizations how to successfully plan, develop, and market tourism products and overcome constraints including health and safety. They took note of specific actions to be pursued under the TICAD IV Yokohama Action Plan, including the need to:

– encourage and assist African countries’ efforts to address security, hospitality management, infrastructure, and environmental constraints to tourism development, including through tourism training programs;

– support tourism operators to increase familiarization with African destinations and to improve knowledge of the continent and its tourist attractions;

– take advantage of the opportunities provided by the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa; and

– support long-term tourism promotion through events such as travel fairs.

In this context, and in an effort to provide impetus to the implementation of these activities, the participants made the following policy recommendations, emphasizing the importance of uniting and harmonizing all stakeholders under public-private partnerships in a holistic manner:
1. There should be concentrated focus on the development and promotion of tourism from Asian countries, including Japan, to Africa for the 2010 FIFA World Cup and beyond.
2. A targeted marketing strategy should be identified based on analysis of trends, profile, and orientation of potential inbound travelers to Africa.
3. Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), relevant international organizations such as the UN World Tourism Organization, and partners including within the African continent should support programs to build African capacity, at destination, national, and regional levels, with respect to tourism development. This would include the implementation of master plan studies and feasibility studies on various aspects of tourism, dispatch of tourism development experts and language instructors, mounting of tourism promotion seminars and workshops, and production and distribution of educational and awareness-raising materials. The “One Village One Product” initiative promoted under cooperation by Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO) and JICA should be expanded further for the development and overseas marketing of local products by communities.
4. The private sector of Japan and other Asian countries are encouraged to make use of the various funding facilities available under the Yokohama Action Plan and other cooperation programs to carry out programs, projects, and activities aimed at promoting tourism as an element of boosting economic growth while enabling conservation and environmental protection in Africa.
5. FDI in the African tourism industry should be seriously promoted. The specific focus of such investment should be on the building of international standard hotels and lodges, restaurants, airline services, and value addition to African commodities, etc., as well as an enabling environment in terms of policy, legal, and regulatory frameworks. Relevant financial institutions in both Africa and Asia, including the Japan Bank for International Cooperation (JBIC), African Development Bank, Africa regional development banks, and private banks should actively disseminate information about their applicable facilities to promote such investment.
6. Africa countries, with the support of TICAD co-organizers and other partners, should make collective efforts to strengthen regional capacities of all five sub-regions of the continent so that they can promote in Japan and other Asian countries their tourist attractions in the region.
7. The increase of international air services, including charter services directly between Asian airports, especially those in Japan and Africa, should be encouraged with the view to capturing the opportunities provided by the 2010 FIFA World Cup.
8. Further reconnaissance missions to African countries should be organized, preferably before the 2010 FIFA World Cup in order to tap into the tourism potential and to identify new tourist destinations likely to be of interest or to appeal to Japanese and other Asian tourists.
9. The media from Asia, especially TV broadcasters and popular magazines, should be encouraged to increase coverage of Africa – with special focus on tourism destinations, attractions, UNESCO World Heritage Sites, etc. In this regard, further efforts should also be made by the African side to promote greater awareness of the continent’s many tourism attractions and improve the image of Africa.

10. Security issues related to the sustainable development and promotion of tourism in Africa should be given utmost attention by all relevant stakeholders. Travel information on African countries, issued by the governments of Japan and other Asian countries participating in the AABF V, could take into account the efforts by African countries to promote tourism in the respective country, while ensuring the safety of travelers.
TICAD co-organizers will monitor the progress of the above-mentioned activities and incorporate it into the tourism section of annual progress reports on the implementation of the Yokohama Action Plan, which will be presented at Annual TICAD Ministerial Follow Up meetings.

The participating governments ended the AABF Summit in Munyonyo, Kampala by signing various MOUs, while the private sector participants actively cooperated in their own dedicated ending session to build partnerships spanning not just Africa but as far as the Asian countries.