Addis Ababa, has recently hosted the 59th Meeting of the UNWTO Commission for Africa. Held between 18-21 April, the Commission included a High-level Meeting on Chinese Outbound Tourism to Africa, where regional representatives debated the potential that the sector brings to the continent.
Attended by 21 tourism Ministers from the African continent, the UNWTO Regional Commission for Africa has become the best platform to discuss tourism trends in the continent and the potential that Chinese tourism can induce at regional level.
The attendees also included Edmund Bartlett, Minister of Tourism, Entertainment of Jamaica and Hongtao Wei, Vice Chairman of the China National Tourism Administration.
The 59th edition of the Commission was complemented by a key interactive session on the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development which is being celebrated worldwide through 2017.
“We all come out of Africa, and went on to inhabit the world, making Africa the first source market in history. Africa is the future and Ethiopia is the soul and heart of Africa” said UNWTO Secretary-General Taleb Rifai, opening the event.
UNWTO Secretary-General received a Recognition Award from H.E. Mr. Muktar Kedir, Minister of Good Governance of Ethiopia to highlight his legacy to promote tourism as a driver of economic growth, inclusive development and environmental sustainability.
During his intervention, Mr. Muktar Kedir, described his country ´as a unique land where the earliest ancestors of human beings first walks upright, we honestly expect Ethiopia to be one of the prime choices of tourists in the near future that makes them feel safe and enjoy their stay in this yet un explored land´, he said.
The Commission served to motivate African Member States to undersign the African Charter on Sustainable and Responsible Tourism as well supporting the African Caravan on Sustainable and Responsible Tourism led by Morocco through activities to be organized and celebrated during the campaign of the International Year.
China has become a major investor in the African continent, contributing to infrastructure development and reshaping the economic landscape, and is the world´s largest outbound market since 2012 after recording double digit growth in expenditure every year since 2004.
The meeting witnessed a high level of participation not only from African governments but also private sector stakeholders who discussed the dynamics of the Chinese outbound market together with ways to provide guidance for policies and strategies to African Member States, Chinese stakeholders and African businesses.
The event was a combination of keynote presentations from UNWTO, IVY Alliance Tourism Consulting, AVIAREPS and International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), interactive panels and roundtable discussions.
The Commission was informed that the 60th CAF will be hosted in Chengdu China within the framework of the 22nd Session of the General Assembly, to be held in September 2017. In addition, members of the Commission unanimously welcomed Nigeria´s expression of interest to host the 61st CAF to be held in 2018.