The African Development Bank (AfDB) has reaffirmed its commitment to bolstering Africa’s growing tourism sector, emphasising its pivotal role in the continent’s rapid economic growth.
This comes as the sector, across the whole region is recovering from the adverse impacts of Covid-19 pandemic that saw travel, tourism and hospitality suffer due to lockdowns and travel restrictions imposed to limit the spread of the pandemic.
Zimbabwe has also identified the sector as one of the low hanging fruit that will propel the economy to an upper middle income society as espoused in the National Development Strategy (NDS1). Tourist arrivals are also projected to continue growing as international travel increases as projected by the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO).
Endowed with unique tourist attractions, the African region, Zimbabwe included, has every reason to leverage the sector for economic upturn.
The AfDB announcement came during the 66th Tourism Conference organised by the UNWTO and was commended by industry stakeholders.
Under the theme “Rethinking Tourism for Africa: Promoting Investment and Partnerships; Addressing Global Challenges,” the conference, hosted by the government of Mauritius, gathered African tourism ministers and key industry players to deliberate on strategies for enhancing tourism across the continent.
Leila Mokaddem, Director General for the Southern Africa Regional Integration and Business Delivery Hub at AfDB, underscored the bank’s determination to prioritise support for member countries in developing their tourism industry. She emphasised the need for sustainable, climate-smart local economic development, recognising tourism as one of Africa’s fastest-growing and interconnected sectors.
“Tourism is one of the fastest growing and most interconnected sectors in the global economy with vast potential to boost GDP and investment – spurring regional integration. Mauritius is a success story in that regard,” Mokaddem stated.
AfDB’s strategic focus on accelerating Africa’s industrialisation and green growth, has led to the identification of the tourism sector as a priority area. In line with this vision, the bank is forging a close partnership with UNWTO, the specialised agency responsible for promoting tourism worldwide, boasting a membership network of 158 countries.
The collaboration between AfDB and UNWTO will be formalised through a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU). This partnership will be guided by the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, the African Union Agenda 2063, and Rio+20 development goals and objectives.
These efforts align seamlessly with AfDB’s 2013-2022 Strategy and its High five priorities aimed at industrialising Africa and improving the quality of life for its citizens, particularly through the creation of conducive conditions for decent youth employment.
The collaboration between the two entities will focus on filling critical gaps in advocacy, policy formulation, and analytical advice within the tourism sector. This partnership is anticipated to stimulate tourism growth, thereby contributing to the broader socioeconomic development of African nations.