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Unlocking Africa’s tourism potential

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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.

Sincerely,

Zurab Pololikashvili

* This letter was first published by Voyagesafriq

Tourism & Travel

Addis Ababa has the most expensive hotel rooms in Africa, survey reveals

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Addis Ababa has the most expensive hotel rooms in Africa. Picture: Instagram @everyday_ethiopia_

Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, posted Africa’s highest average daily rate (ADR), according to the most recent 12-month data from STR when surveying hotels on the continent.

From July 2018 through June 2019 the city registered an absolute average daily rate (ADR) of US $163.79 (about R2 400) when measured in constant currency, which removes the effects of inflation.

It’s a 1.1% increase year on year. The next closest STR-defined markets in Africa were Accra, Ghana ($160.34) and Lagos, Nigeria ($132.51). “Addis Ababa continues to maintain high ADR levels when compared internationally,” said Thomas Emanuel, a director for STR.

“The city has multiple demand drivers, such as a growing economy, successful airline and its status as the diplomatic capital for Africa. Air connections and ease of access compared with other cities also factor in the equation for strong demand, which provides hoteliers with the confidence to maintain rate levels.”

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“With healthy performance comes interest in investment. The market’s pipeline is strong with 22 hotels and 4 820 rooms in active development. We will continue to monitor these new openings to see how the market reacts once these additional rooms open,” he says.

Addis Ababa’s occupancy over the same 12-month time period was 58.4%, up 6.5% year over year. Cairo & Giza was the continent’s occupancy leader at 74.5%. Cape Town Centre, South Africa (65.0%), ranked second in the metric followed by Accra (59.7%).

Credit: IOL

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Tourism & Travel

Business traveller: Here are 5 tips to know

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The Business Exchange is a popular co-working space with offices in Johannesburg. The company has also just opened an office in Mauritius. Picture: Supplied/IOL.

If you find yourself travelling for business, here are 5 tips to help you:

Make sure your accommodation has free and fast wi-fi

Most hotels have decent wi-fi, and in many cases it’s free. There are, however, some hotels that cap the wi-fi usage to a certain amount for guests, after which you will be made to pay for further access.

The last thing you want is to be in your hotel room or the business centre on a Skype call with your boss, and you reach the wi-fi limit.  If you are staying in an Airbnb, or something similar, talk to your host ahead of time to ensure you have internet connectivity.

Book accommodation close to business engagements

If you are in town for a particular business event, and you need to be at a certain venue for the work you need to do, then try to book accommodation close by. It allows less travel time, and you avoid wasting time getting lost.
You can also book accommodation near a public transport hub.

Rent a hot desk in a co-working space

It is not always easy getting work done at your accommodation or a coffee shop. A hot desk at a co-working space can be rented on a day-to-day basis and makes for an ideal, functional, work base. There is free wi-fi, and the facilities are ideal for business travellers, with boardrooms, meeting rooms and more. For those travelling in and around South Africa, there are many different options available.

The Business Exchange is a popular co-working space with offices in Johannesburg. The company has also just opened an office in Mauritius.

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Book an extra day to explore

If you can afford it, definitely try to add an extra day of leisure to your business trip. This will allow you to take in the city at your own pace and time. You can also get to know the people a bit better, learn about their culture, and eat some local delicacies.

Try some local experiences and deep dive into what the place has to offer. It makes for a better story than telling people you just zipped in-and-out quickly, with no idea of what goes on in the city.

Buy a local sim card rather than switch to roaming

Switching to your network’s roaming offering, while convenient, will steadily, and steeply, push up your monthly bill. Rather buy a local sim card and use that instead. It is a much cheaper option.

Credit: IOL

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Tourism & Travel

8 handy items to ensure stress-free travel

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Don’t forget to pack your camera. You shouldn’t be relying solely on your smartphone to take pics.

Now that you have taken the step to travel after months of planning, there are a few things you need to know. Packing the right items can be quite hard, so we have compiled a guide of the 10 items that every traveller needs, and why.

A camera: With the rise of smartphones, many travellers prefer carrying their cellphones than a camera. But a camera has many benefits. It comes in handy when your phone battery dies and usually takes better images and videos than your phone.

Hand sanitiser: Germs are everywhere and they can cause serious health issues. Alcohol-based hand sanitisers prevent the spread of germs and illness-causing bacteria, whether you at the airport or in a tourist site.

Moisturiser: Travelling takes a toll on the skin, especially during long flights and harsh weather conditions. Take a dermatologist-approved moisturiser to hydrate your skin and keep you looking in top shape.

Don’t forget your travel pillow.

Travel pillow: Whether you are flying or travelling long periods of time, a travel pillow can help you get that much-needed shut-eye. There are nifty travel pillows that deflate into small packages.

A travel wallet: For those people who tend to lose things quickly, a travel wallet is just what you need. It stores everything from your passport, plane tickets, travel cards and itinerary. It’s easy to store and compact enough to take anywhere.

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Universal adapter: There is nothing more frustrating than not having an adapter to charge your devices. Instead of running low on power on your travels and decreasing the brightness on your screen to save your battery, carry along a universal adapter. It is usable in most countries.

Always make sure you have a power bank when you hit the road.

Power bank: These nifty gadgets come handy during full-day tours or during power outages. With all the videos and pictures you will be capturing, a power bank will help juice up your device until its next charge.

A wet bag: Or any other bag to store your messy clothes: unless making use of the hotel’s laundry service, a traveller should carry a wet bag in their suitcase. Wet bags are waterproof cloth bags meant to store clothing that you have used. It separates your clean and dirty clothes.

 

Credit: CLINTON MOODLEY

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