1-2 OCTOBER 2018
• The Minister of Tourism and Wildlife of the Republic of Kenya, Hon. Najib Balala;
• The AU Commissioner on Infrastructure and Energy, H.E Dr. Amani Abou-Zeid;
• Permanent Secretary for State Department of Tourism Kenya, Mr Joe Okudo;
• Permanent Secretaries and Director Generals Responsible for Tourism from across Africa, here present;
• Heads of Delegation and Senior Government Officials, here present;
• Your Excellencies, the Ambassadors and Permanent Representatives to the AU;
• Ladies and Gentlemen
Greetings from Zimbabwe and welcome to this important meeting of Africa on the development of Continental Tourism.
Let me, from onset, take this opportunity to express my special recognition to our host, the Minister of Tourism and Wildlife of Kenya, Honourable Balala, for taking time out of your busy schedule to come and officially open this Senior Officials’ meeting today. This shows your vision and the importance that you attach to the development of tourism, not only in your country but also for the Continent and globally, since you are the current chair of the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) Commission for Africa (CAF). We thank you Sir, for coming.
Ladies and Gentlemen, Zimbabwe is grateful that the first meeting for the AU Ministerial Specialized Technical Committee (STC) Sub- Committee on Tourism, has finally taken off. Following the inaugural Specialised Technical Committee (STC) Meeting on Transport, Energy and Tourism held in Lome, Togo in March 2017, the First Meeting of the Bureau of the Specialised Technical Committee on Transport, Energy and Tourism was held in Addis Ababa, to address key challenges affecting the achievement of set goals on Tourism, as outlined in the AU Agenda 2063.
As Chair of the Tourism Sub-Committee, Zimbabwe is expected to lead in the establishment of an African Tourism Organisation at AU level as well as a Tourism Directorate or Unit at the AUC level and the Continental Tourism Policy Framework by the end of this year, December 2018.
Ladies and Gentlemen, allow me to express Zimbabwe’s gratitude to the Kenyan Government and Minister of Tourism, Hon. Balala, for offering to host the first ever, AU STC Ministerial Sub-Committee meeting on Tourism. After meeting with the Minister of Environment, Tourism and Hospitality Industry, Hon. Priscah Mupfumira (Sen.), during the 61st Meeting of the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) Commission for Africa (CAF) in Abuja, Nigeria from 3-6 June 2018, the two Honourable Ministers agreed to have the AU STC Tourism Sub-Committee meeting held right here in “Magical Kenya”. Zimbabwe would like to thank Kenya for agreeing to provide the venue and other logistical facilities for the smooth conduct of our deliberations today. Thank you Kenya for the hospitality and all facilities extended to all the AU delegations for this important meeting.
During this meeting, we expect to address key challenges with the view of aligning tourism strategies to the Agenda 2063. The main objective of this meeting, therefore, is to review the status of the AU Plan of Action on Tourism (2017-2019) with a view to identifying the achievements, challenges and mapping the way forward to enhance the realization of the identified goals for the development of Continental tourism.
Further, as directed to the Sub-Committee on Tourism by the AU STC, this meeting aims to achieve, inter-alia, the following;
I. Make Africa the preferred tourism destination for Africans first, and then the rest of the world;
II. Formulate the AU Continental Tourism Framework /Strategy;
III. Establish an African Tourism Organisation; and
IV. Establish a Directorate or Unit on Tourism in the Structures of the AUC.
Invited guests, ladies and gentlemen, this meeting builds on the Preparatory Meeting of Experts held from 11 to 12 July 2018, which deliberated at length the Plan of Action on Tourism. The same meeting recommended the above four key priority areas for consideration by the Ministers’ meeting.
It is against this background, ladies and gentlemen, that we need to reflect on these recommendations, and also take appropriate decisions for guidance and approval by Hon. Ministers. We also need to make reference to input and recommendations made by other key stakeholders such as Banks and Financial Institutions, United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO), United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA), New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD), African Regional Economic Communities (RECs) and other International Co-operating Partners (ICPs).
The inclusion of Tourism in the AU Agenda 2063, gives Africa the confidence that attainment of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) Agenda 2030, which focus on empowerment and addressing poverty, unemployment, inter-alia, is indeed, a reality for the Continent’s people. In 2017, Africa received 62 million international tourists which amounts to an increase of 8% over 2016, accounting for 10.4% of global GDP and 313 million jobs. The UNWTO is confident that international tourist arrivals in Africa will grow by between 9% and 10% by end of 2018. This is good for Africa, only if we work together as a united Continent.
Ladies and gentlemen, we look forward to having our Ministers and delegates, experience and learn from each other about issues that contribute to the advancement of the Continental Tourism Agenda, on an inclusive and sustainable growth trajectory.
I look forward to fruitful discussions as we deliberate the future of Tourism on our Continent.
I thank you.