Tourism needs stronger links to grow: Pololikashvili

By Daniel Chigundu

UNWTO secretary general Zurab Pololikashvili has called for stronger links between public and private players in the tourism sector so that people on the continent can benefit greatly.

Players in the tourism sector have been blamed for failing to work together for example on sharing data and research but rather preferring to compete on almost everything, a development which is reportedly affecting the growth of the tourism sector in Africa.

Lack of growth in the tourism sector also affects the creation of tourism jobs and also has a direct bearing on the tourism receipts for the countries.

Speaking at the 61st meeting of the UNWTO Commission for Africa held in Abuja, Nigeria, from the 4th to the 6th of June, Pololikashvili said his mandate was to ensure the growth of the sector and creation of better tourism jobs.

“The priorities of my mandate have been formed by listening to the needs of our member states and include the crucial targets of creating more and better tourism jobs, improving tourism education and fostering innovation.

“We need to build tight links between public and private sectors for tourism to transform growth across the continent, and for the benefit of its people,” he said.

The meeting also underscored how tourism projects can contribute to poverty alleviation, the importance of finding innovative approaches to developing tourism in the region, and the need to find and foster new partnerships and resources to develop the sector.

According to participants, based against the backdrop of the growth of international tourism in Africa, tourism’s overall economic impact needs to be measured accurately in order for tourism strategies to effectively contribute to national economies.

The ministerial dialogue addressed the significance of collecting and compiling quantitative and qualitative data, as well as the importance of commitments from national stakeholders and institutional partnerships for a rigorous tourism statistics system.

Speaking at the same meeting Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari, stated that “Nigeria has great potentials for tourism and investment”, underscoring the relevance of the sector, both regarding its contribution to sustainable development and its role to further diversify the economy and increase social resilience.

The meeting also discussed the need for establishing a Statistical Framework for the Measurement of Sustainable Tourism (MST).

This Framework includes environmental, social and cultural tourism components geared towards achieving the 17 Sustainable Development Goals of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

The Commission for Africa attracted 18 tourism ministers from the region and key tourism stakeholders from 36 countries and was running under the theme “Tourism Statistics: A Catalyst for Development” while the ministerial dialogue was under the topic “Better measure, better manage”

The next African Commission meeting will take place during the second quarter of 2019.

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