Africa meets to discuss and Ecotourism and travel

— from ..jmd..

The Africa Travel Association met in Tanzania to discuss the future of African Travel last week. Africa is one place that, aside from being the origin of all humanity, is also the one area with the most diverse natural travel opportunities on the planet. Kenya in particular has made an entire tourism industry out of safaris over the past 100 years, and other African nations have been following suit.

Africa Travel Association’s 33rd Annual Congress in Tanzania Explores Africa’s Competitive Advantage in Global Market
Jun 16, 08

More than 300 tourism industry experts from Africa, the U.S., Canada, Europe and Asia came together in Tanzania from May 19-23, 2008 to participate in the Africa Travel Association’s 33rd Annual Congress, under the banner of Africa’s competitive advantage in tourism.

Tanzania’s Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism hosted the event at the Arusha International Conference Center (AICC) in the northern tourist town of Arusha. Also known as the Safari Capital, Arusha is a gateway to the country’s leading travel destinations: Mount Kilimanjaro, the Serengeti Plains and the Ngorongoro Crater.

Tanzanian President Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete opened the event, highlighting the important role tourism plays in promoting socio-economic development across the continent.
“Tourism is a sector whose importance in the economies of many African countries is ever increasing,” Kikwete said. “But tourism in Africa is still at a very infantile stage of development. With the vast tourism resources available in many nations in Africa, there is still greater potential for growth… what has so far been exploited is a very tiny fraction of the tourism potential that exists.”
Africa’s share in the global tourism marketplace remains small, despite the fact that the continent has an abundance of natural and cultural tourist attractions explained the President.

“Africa needs to tap this potential and leverage it to overcome poverty and increase prosperity. Unfortunately many African nations are yet to benefit proportionately to their resource endowments,” he said.

Hon. Shamsa Selengia Mwangunga, Tanzania’s Minister of Natural Resources and Tourism, emphasized the need to promote responsible tourism by supporting initiatives that promote conservation and economic growth, while minimizing the negative impacts that the tourism industry often yields.

“In Tanzania, we believe in sustainable development of tourism and are strong advocates of nature conservation,” the Minister said. “We have taken deliberate efforts at a national level to involve local communities in managing natural resources and tourism development, while strengthening private-public sector partnership. We call on all tourism stakeholders to make sure that tourism promotion goes hand in hand with conservation of the natural resources as well as development of local communities.”

ATA Executive Director Edward Bergman spoke of Africa as a destination full of potential, presenting Tanzania as an example for African nations to turn to when developing national tourism strategies.
“When Tanzania opened its doors to ATA for the first time in 1998, the country had re-launched its promotional efforts in the American marketplace. Ten years later, the U.S. ranks second in the number of tourists visiting Tanzania,” he said.

Bergman explained that in only a short period of time, tourism has become Tanzania’s leading economic sector, expecting to earn $1 billion this year, and to overtake agriculture, the leading contributor to the country’s economy for decades.

“Tourism is the largest voluntary transfer of resources from the rich to the not-so-rich in history,” said Lelei LeLaulu, President of Counterpart International. “Europeans and Americans take and leave more money in Africa than the US and European governments give in official aid. At a time when a constricting global economy reduces international aid flows, African nations have a golden opportunity to harness the enormous power of the world’s largest and fastest growing industry, tourism, to improve the health, wealth, environment and culture of their communities.”

PLEASE let me know your experiences with African travel by leaving a comment – this is an area of great interest to me.

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