24 January 2013

Southern Africa: Afcon a Golden Opportunity for SADC

Windhoek — The Regional Tourism Organisation of Southern Africa (RETOSA), says the 2013 edition of the African Cup of Nations (AFCON), is an excellent opportunity to showcase SADC's world-class facilities.

Apart from AFCON, RETOSA says the co-hosting of the 2013 United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) General Assembly by Zambia and Zimbabwe in August, as well as the hosting of the 2013 Adventure Travel World Summit (ATWS) by Namibia are other opportunities to show to the world what SADC has to offer in terms of tourism attractions, including sports and more.

"These are unprecedented platforms to remind the world that Southern Africa is well-equipped and positioned for sports tourism and to host mega events," the Acting Executive Director of RETOSA, Simba Mandinyenya, was quoted recently in a media statement. The 2013 Orange Africa Cup of Nations will bring thousands of soccer fans to South Africa between mid-January and early February.

Mandinyenya said this is a major boost for intra-regional tourism, since fans from across Africa and RETOSA members flock to South Africa to support their countries and teams. "In fact, this is the time for visitors from within and outside the region to indulge in an ultimate African experience by exploring South Africa in particular," the acting executive director of RETOSA said.

Mandinyenya noted that the impact of the AFCON on travel and tourism has relevance for both South Africa and the wider Southern Africa region, because soccer enthusiasts and media from all corners of the world will be focusing on the region during this three-week Africa soccer extravaganza.

According to Mandinyenya, it is another important opportunity to sustain the legacies of the region from the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, 2010 Africa Cup of Nations in Angola and 2011 All Africa Games in Mozambique.

The UNWTO General Assembly, to be co-hosted by Zambia and Zimbabwe, later this year, provides the two host countries a global platform to market themselves as serious players in the industry, as well as both business and holiday destinations. "Brand Zambia and Brand Zimbabwe will be in the global spotlight before, during and after the UNWTO General Assembly," Mandinyenya said.

Namibia is preparing to host the Adventure Travel World Summit (AWTS) in October this year. This is an event that is expected to bring all the global players in adventure tourism to Southern Africa. "The events mentioned above and many more will put the spotlight not just on the hosting countries, but on the entire Southern Africa tourism regional destination," the RETOSA acting head added.

According to him, the economies of RETOSA member states are improving, as governments from the region are responding positively to the needs of the sector by improving infrastructure, including airports, border posts and trans-boundary road systems, thus further improving the connectivity and accessibility of regional tourism products.

Mandinyenya said with all these events and others planned, 2013 is not going to be an ordinary year for Southern Africa, but marks the beginning of 'Brand Southern Africa' developing into a global brand. RETOSA is a permanent institution of SADC, responsible for tourism growth and development.

In part, the aims of RETOSA are to increase tourism to the region through sustainable initiatives, destination marketing, improved regional competitiveness and investment promotion and ultimately, to reduce poverty in local communities. It works together with the region's national tourism ministries and institutions, private sector organisations in member states and numerous partners such as UNWTO to achieve those goals.

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