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Unlocking Africa’s tourism potential



Zurab Pololikashvili, the UNWTO Secretary-General. Picture: Suplied/IOL

An open letter from Zurab Pololikashvili, the UNWTO Secretary-General, writes that the organisation’s Agenda for Africa – Roadmap to Inclusive Growth serves as a blueprint and a strategic framework to help unlock the continent’s tourism potential towards inclusive development.

Dear esteemed readers,

I would like to sincerely congratulate everyone of you for your commitment in mainstreaming sustainable tourism in your  national development agendas.

From the outset of my mandate at the helm of the organization , my main priorities have been to make tourism smarter through innovation and digital transformation, to grow our competitive edge through investments and entrepreneurship, to create more and better jobs, to build resilience and facilitate travel as well as to protect our tangible and intangible heritage.

As the majority of you knows, the organization through the Regional Department for Africa initiated in early 2018 a consultative process which concluded with the approval and presentation of the special UNWTO Agenda for Africa – Roadmap to inclusive growth. This roadmap now serves as a blueprint and a strategic framework to help unlock the tourism potential towards inclusive development.

The agenda, which is aligned with the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and its 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), fully reflects the seven aspirations of the Agenda 2063 of the African Union (AU) aimed at driving a socio-economic transformation of the continent through sustainable tourism. Our close collaboration with the African Union has strengthened over the years through the participation of institutional meetings such as our regional commission meetings, the AU Sub-Committee on Tourism and other tourism-related projects undertaken in the region.

I would like to once again express my earnest appreciation to all who joined us in celebrating the 10th anniversary of INVESTOUR in early January during FITUR. The 10th anniversary marked a key milestone for the business and investment networking platform that brings together public and private sector stakeholders  to discuss the investment climate and opportunities in the continent. During this edition, I had the honour and profound pleasure to present a recognition award to a Rwandan entrepreneur, Mr. Greg Bakunzi for his commitment to sustainable tourism growth in Africa. In addition to this, I was pleased to introduce the 1st edition of the Tourism Tech Adventure to promote African Tourism innovation, by bringing five startups from the region to  present and pitch their ideas in contributing towards sustainable development in Africa.

During the month of February, we greatly contributed to the organization of the first edition of the Caravan of the African Charter on Sustainable and Responsible tourism which was held in Brazzaville, Republic of the Congo. The African Charter on Sustainable and Responsible tourism, is an initiative of the Kingdom of Morocco launched in the margins of the 2016 United Nations Climate Change Conference, COP 22 and has been signed by 26 African countries. This Caravan, which I truly encourage other member states to adopt and implement, gave me the the opportunity to partake in the high-level meetings led by Her Excellency Mrs. Arlette Soudan-Nonault, Minister of Tourism and Environment under the patronage of His Excellency President Denis Sassou Nguesso.

On the occasion of the 63rd independence of Tunisia and the inauguration of the 36th Craft Creation Fair, I was officially invited to Tunisia and met with the Head of State, H.E. Mr. Beji Caid Essebsi as well as with the Head of Government, H.E. Mr. Youssef Chahed to discuss the role of tourism in Tunisia’s economy.  The visit included several high level discussions with Ministers of Tourism, Transport, Education and Foreign Affairs on the implementation of the MoU signed earlier in January.

At the end of March, we joined forces with the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) and the Government of Cabo Verde to host the First Ministerial Conference on Air Transport and Tourism in Africa, which was held in Sal Island, Cabo Verde. To this effect, I would sincerely like to reiterate my thanks to the Government of Cabo Verde for the opportunity given to our members  to discuss on how to further develop the symbiotic relationship between the tourism and air transport sectors. During this event, we launched the initial results of the UNWTO Visa Openness Report 2019 for Africa which include the analysis of visa policies and progress made in visa facilitation over the past 10 years.

Building capacities and training is central to our priorities. As a result, we have recently been welcoming delegates from Angola and the Gambia for capacity training sessions at our headquarters in Madrid, Spain. Officials from the Ministry of Tourism of Angola benefited from training on policy issues and the delegates from the Gambia, representing officials from the Ministry of Tourism and Culture and the Destination Managers from the Gambia Tourism Board were given the chance to gain insights and guidance into multiple thematic within the worldwide tourism industry.

As we celebrate the achievements of the continent and the creation of the African Union during Africa Day, let us recognize the potential of Africa´s youth and appreciate the major human capital and demographic dividend that needs to be harnessed through concrete actions such as innovation and digitalization through start-ups, investment strategies and entrepreneurship, education and skills development.

As the great African leader Nelson Mandela once said, “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world”.  The newly rebranded UNWTO Academy will offer a wide range of online technical and leadership trainings and I invite all member states of Africa to take advantage of it in their effort to strengthen human capital.

In conclusion, I would like to assure our members of my commitment together with my team to continue to deliver on the priority areas of the organization which are also reflected in the UNWTO Agenda for Africa – Roadmap for Inclusive Growth.


Zurab Pololikashvili

* This letter was first published by Voyagesafriq

Hospitality & Tourism

Radisson Hotel Group unveils Radisson Hotel Casablanca Gauthier La Citadelle, its second brand in Morocco



Radisson Hotel Casablanca Gauthier La Citadelle (Source: Saadiyah Hendricks)

Radisson Hotel Group is proud to announce the debut of its second brand and third hotel in Morocco with the signing of Radisson Hotel Casablanca Gauthier La Citadelle in partnership with Al Hoceinia Hospitality. With construction already underway, the hotel is scheduled to open in 2023 and will consist of 133 guestrooms and suites.

Located in the heart of Casablanca’s vibrant and exclusive Gauthier district, one of the prominent corporate, financial and entertainment districts, Radisson Hotel Casablanca Gauthier La Citadelle is just 2.5 km from the glistening La Corniche, the charming Old Medina, and Hassan II Mosque, the second largest mosque in the world. The hotel will offer a unique view over the Arab League Park and will also form part of La Citadelle, a new, premium mixed-use development which will comprise of residences, offices and retail outlets.

Ramsay Rankoussi, Vice President, Development, Africa & Turkey, Radisson Hotel Group, said, “Morocco is a strategic bridge between Europe and the rest of Africa, and a key focus market in our African development strategy. We aim to grow our Moroccan portfolio to over 15 hotels within the next three to five years, and Casablanca is a key city where we are looking to expand our footprint to more than five hotels. Radisson Hotel Casablanca Gauthier La Citadelle is the Moroccan debut of our fastest-growing brand in Africa, and marks our third hotel in the country, joining our other two successful properties, Radisson Blu Hotel, Casablanca City Center and Radisson Blu Hotel, Marrakech Carré Eden. We expect to introduce each of our remaining three brands but also cover all segments, from business hotels to resort properties, as well as serviced apartments. I would like to take this opportunity to thank our partners, Al Hoceinia Hospitality, for their trust as we look at working together to reinforce our presence across Morocco with additional properties.”

Hamza Laghrari, Managing Director of Al Hoceinia Hospitality, Casablanca Gauthier La Citadelle managing company said, “It is with great pleasure that we commence this journey and long-term relationship with Radisson Hotel Group and together introduce the upscale Radisson brand to the Moroccan market. The hotel which will be equipped with the latest innovation to accompany the changing expectations of business customers, will provide a new and an ideal venue for business and leisure guests and an enhancement to the city of Casablanca. As part of our group’s diversification strategy, the tourism industry is an important growth sector in which we see opportunities in the near future, and we are pleased to partner with Radisson Hotel Group to introduce this property and eventually many more. We aim to open a total of five hotels by 2025 in Casablanca, Rabat, Marrakech and Tangiers.”

The Scandinavian-inspired, upscale brand, Radisson, will make its Moroccan debut with the new build, 133-room hotel, consisting of contemporary superior rooms and suites. Radisson Hotel Casablanca Gauthier La Citadelle will enable guests to focus on a work/life balance and find harmony in their travel experience, while enjoying the hotel’s modern, state of the art technology, and design. Various cuisine options will be available at the hotel’s all-day dining restaurant, patio as well as its panoramic rooftop restaurant. Meetings and event venues will include a large conference and function room as well as five meeting rooms. Perfectly equipped for guests to strike a healthy balance, the hotel will offer both a fitness room and a rooftop pool.

Casablanca Gauthier La Citadelle (Source: Saadiyah Hendricks)

Radisson Hotel Group’s top priority is the continued health, safety and security of its guests, team members, and business partners. The Group applies its Radisson Hotels Safety Protocol created in collaboration with SGS, the world’s leading inspection, verification, testing and certification company, and recently unveiled its new comprehensive testing program as the first hotel group to roll out a rapid testing service for meeting and event attendees at properties across its EMEA portfolio.



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Hospitality & Tourism

Radisson Hotel Group renews partnership with SGS and continues global application of the Radisson Hotels Safety Protocol



Radisson Hotel Group is proud to announce the extension of its partnership with SGS, the world’s leading inspection, verification, testing and certification company recognized as the global benchmark for quality and integrity, and the continued global roll out of the Radisson Hotels Safety Protocol to further strengthen Radisson Hotel Group’s existing rigorous sanitation, cleanliness and disinfection program across its portfolio around the world.

In 2020, Radisson Hotel Group worked closely with SGS to conduct a thorough review of all existing health and safety processes and worked with a team of experts to develop and validate the Radisson Hotels Safety Protocol, a comprehensive series of 20-Step and 10-step protocols for hotels and for Meetings & Events. These enhanced protocols which include comprehensive health and safety procedures such as increased cleaning and disinfection especially in high touch point areas, sanitizing stations, team member personal protective equipment (PPE), physical distancing measures and hybrid solutions for meetings, improved air circulation, and strict food safety procedures, have all been validated by SGS, building on local requirements and recommendations to ensure guests’ safety and peace of mind from check-in to check-out. In addition, Radisson Hotel Group has adapted the Radisson Hotels Safety Protocol specifically for Resorts, with attention to services like sports, spa facilities and kids’ clubs.

The Radisson Hotels Safety Protocol is an official cleanliness and disinfection label which can be used by hotels only after an in-depth centralized validation process has been conducted by SGS. In addition, selected hotels receive the additional SGS Disinfection monitored & Cleaning Checked label upon completion of a comprehensive local audit including on-site testing using the latest technology.

“At Radisson Hotel Group, the health and safety of our guests, team members and partners continue to be a top priority. The world has been fundamentally changed by COVID-19, so it is key that we continue innovating and striving to deliver a clean and safe environment to all who walk through our doors, stay in our hotels and conduct meetings in our properties. SGS has been a key partner to ensure our hotels are providing the best and latest health and safety measures, and we are proud to renew our partnership for a second year,” says Federico J. González, CEO, Radisson Hotel Group.

Frankie Ng, CEO of SGS, adds that: “Expert and documented validation by SGS of health, safety and prevention protocols related to COVID-19 has allowed the Tourism industry and Radisson Hotel Group to inspire trust and confidence to travelers around the world.  The goal of our continued partnership is to ensure that the highest hygiene standards are met, and to protect guests as well as Radisson Hotel Group team members and partners.

As part of the Group’s ongoing commitment to the safe return of travel and to allow for a swift return to business, Radisson Hotel Group recently launched its new comprehensive testing program as the first hotel group to roll out a rapid testing service for meeting and event attendees at properties across their EMEA portfolio. In addition, hotels will be able to direct guests to an easily accessible and affordable PCR testing location. The comprehensive testing program for guests is groundbreaking in its coordinated approach across EMEA to reinstall confidence and peace of mind to travelers as the world returns to business by providing a safe environment and seamless testing facilitation.

Radisson Hotel Group continues play a key role in the development of the World Travel and Tourism (WTTC)’s “Safe Travels” and “Seamless Travel” health and safety protocols, a global framework and stamp for a safe return to business and to create consistency across the Travel and Tourism industry. The WTTC’s Safe Travels stamp is currently endorsed by over 200 destinations around the world.



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Hospitality & Tourism

Reimagining the Future of Sustainable Tourism in Africa



Photo by kureng Dapel from Pexels

At Spurt! We are always looking to amplify solutions to critical and specific challenges in Sub Saharan Africa. This week, we reviewed Why Tourism Desperately Needs a New Performance Metric Post-Pandemic by Lebawit Lily Girma. The wake of COVID-19 and its effects on the Tourism sector has unearthed realities that the sector’s metric for success needs to go beyond the numbers; the arrivals and GDP contributions. There’s a solid case for other sustainable ways for measuring success that is as inclusive and effective in capturing the real value add brought by tourist activities. The ongoing equity issue and the colonial legacy entrenched in the sector have to be front and centre to address these.

Tourism is one of the most important economic sectors. According to the UN, It employs one in every ten people on Earth and provides livelihoods to hundreds of millions more. Due to the anchor role it plays in boosting economies, it is imperative that key stakeholders, with the government taking a leading part, take active steps in safeguarding the growth and sustainability of the sector. The sector’s importance notwithstanding, transparency and cultivated trust, will be crucial in determining how the industry will bounce back from the global pandemic’s dire blow.

It is always subjective what the actual cost of a destination is. In Africa, there’s a pervasive question around the trickle-down effect of the money spent on tourism to the local communities and any transformative change that has occurred over time. Historically, the tourism value chain has always been fragmented. According to a McKinsey report, there has been limited coordination among the small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) that make up a large portion of the sector.

The information champions a more proactive government involvement in the industry through fostering creative alliances between the public and private sector. This cross-sector collaboration can act as an integral leadership centre in tackling emerging issues in the industry and mainstream responsible tourism. The Brookings Institution report on Africa’s tourism potential lauds the governments of Morocco, Mauritius, Kenya, and South Africa to prioritise the tourism sector as a critical driver of growth, allocating resources towards the development of the tourism sector.

Responsible tourism allows local communities to earn a modest income from the tourism activities while supporting conservation efforts. As Lebawit rightfully points out, all efforts geared towards building back the sector better will not be complete without local communities’ inclusion. As the call to decolonise the tourism sector become more substantial, it is becoming clear that innovative and localised tourism is key to a solid and resilient industry. Creative organisations like Turn Up Travel in Kenya are revolutionising responsible tourism through curating unique experiences through striking a balance between destination selection, commerce, conservation and community. More local organisations like Turn Up need to find the root is taking centre stage in diversifying the sector.

At Spurt, the conversation on championing responsible tourism excites us. Local MSMEs are front and centre in the drive to reimagine how a sustainable sector would look. We aspire to be the platform for fostering the growth of scalable local businesses in sub-Saharan Africa that adhere to the best performance and ethical standards. With our research and analytics capabilities, strategic advisory, stakeholder engagement, and implementation support, we are eager to work with local companies like Turn Up by convening, developing, and exciting the best young African thinkers passionate about working for their continent’s economic development.

Written by: Spurt!


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