Arusha — PRESIDENT Jakaya Kikwete has underscored the need for African countries to invest in tourism, saying that the continent has great potential in that field.
Delivering the key-note address at the African Development Bank (AfDB) Annual General Meetings here on Thursday, President Kikwete said that tourism was among the fastest growing sectors but Africa's share was marginal. He said that in 2010 there were 940 million tourists globally and Africa accounted for only 49 million.
"Reasons for dismal performance include lack of air travel to other continents. Again air fares to Africa are much higher compared to similar distances in Europe, Asia and other places," he said.He also said tourism infrastructure like hotels, transport, airlines, airports and sea vessels are not developed. President Kikwete, however, noted that Africa has many attractions compared to other parts of the world.
"If our countries can be assisted in developing the required infrastructure, this potential can be readily harnessed. With its higher multiplier effect in the economy this sector deserves special attention by African governments and financial institutions like AfDB," he said.
Mr Kikwete also urged increased investment in infrastructure development, agriculture and industrialization for job creation. He stressed the need for creation of jobs, particularly for young people to sustain peace and security on the continent.The president noted that the so-called Arab Spring in North Africa was mainly caused by unemployment and poverty. He said that it could easily spread to other parts of Africa if unemployment and poverty remained unsolved.
The meetings are being attended by more than 2,400 delegates from different parts of the world. Ivory Coast President, Alassane Ouattara also addressed the opening ceremony.