Visa facilitation and air connectivity are key areas to address in order to fully seize Africa’s steadily rising tourism performance and foster sustainable development in the region concluded the 5th Investment and Tourism Business Forum for Africa (INVESTOUR). 12 African Tourism Ministers attended the 2013 edition of INVESTOUR, an initiative held every year on the occasion of the Madrid International Tourism Fair (FITUR). (Madrid, Spain, 23 January 2014).
With international tourist arrivals growing by 6% in the region for the second consecutive year, Africa is one of the fastest growing tourism regions in the world. Between 2000 and 2013, international tourist arrivals more than doubled (from 26 million to 56 million). By 2030, UNWTO forecasts this figure to reach 134 million.
INVESTOUR, organized by UNWTO, FITUR and Casa Africa, promotes Africa´s tourism potential and the sector’s importance as a catalyst of socio-economic development through partnerships with Portuguese and Spanish tourism companies. Attending the Forum were the Ministers of Tourism of Algeria, Benin, Cape Verde, Cote D´Ivoire, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ghana, Mozambique, Senegal, Seychelles, Tunisia, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
“Tourism is of rising importance to the African economies. Today we will focus on three barriers still hampering the full potential of tourism in the region: air connectivity, visa facilitation and hotel investment” said UNWTO Secretary-General, Taleb Rifai, opening the event. “56 visas to visit 56 countries is not acceptable. Only with collective efforts can we successfully address such barriers and continue to promote tourism in Africa as a tool for development while stimulating new business opportunities in Spain and Portugal”, he added.
This year, a record of 134 tourism initiatives from 32 African countries and 40 Spanish and Portuguese companies gathered at INVESTOUR. A significant number of the participating projects seek to develop sustainable tourism offers in countries such as Ethiopia, the Ivory Coast, Kenya and Rwanda while several other projects sought partners for the creation or renewal of the hotel infrastructure.