AFRICA needs to do more to achieve economic development, eradicate poverty, and receive its fair share of the world tourism economy, Minister of Tourism and Hospitality Walter Mzembi has said. Speaking at the Seventh Africa Travel Association's annual presidential forum on tourism held at the New York University last week, Minister Mzembi said tourism would assist in eradicating conflicts.
The event was attended by tourism ministers from Namibia, Tanzania, Gambia and Zambia, among other countries. Also present were senior representatives from the Africa Development Bank, African Union, Global Partnerships Forum, and UN World Tourism Organisation. The meeting discussed the benefits of tourism in relation to the economy, environment and people.
"A focused ATA in partnership with the African Union, and in affiliation with the UNWTO, will play its part in ensuring that Africa benefits more from this increasingly important sector.
Minister Mzembi said tourism could contribute positively to peace and stability.
"Tourism is a form of 'people-to-people' diplomacy, in which it enables political engagement, even when states are unengaged.
"Tourism not only leaves a window or a door open but it opens a whole corridor for engagement when political diplomacy fails us."
Zambia Tourism and Arts Minister Mrs Sylvia Masebo said the UNWTO General Assembly would leave a legacy for Zimbabwe and Zambia.
"The two countries are committed to the uniquely African UNWTO General Assembly in 2013, which will leave a long-term legacy for our two countries," she said.
She said Zambia was preparing for the international event, particularly in the areas of marketing, infrastructure, security, and private sector engagement. African Development Bank's Vice President, Professor Mthuli Ncube said more resources needed to be channelled into the tourism sector.
"There is the need to allocate resources to tourism development and the time for Africa's growth is now. Africa is on the cusp of sustainable growth and tourism is an integral part of this," said Prof Ncube.
Zimbabwe and Zambia co-sponsored the ATA forum through the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority and the Zambian Tourism Board. The two countries will in August next year play host to the UNWTO general assembly in Victoria Falls.