This year, the tents at Lagos Fashion and Design Week were set up in Eko Atlantic, a sprawling new development on the peninsula of Victoria Island. The Nigerian city is known for its bold style—here, every day is a reason to get dressed—and Lagosians pulled out all the stops for the shows. A steady stream of colorful characters filled the expansive walkways overlooking the ocean, starting last Wednesday evening and going until late on Saturday night. Many came flaunting trophy pieces familiar to fashion capitals all over the world—men in embroidered Gucci slides, women with Chanel quilted handbags.
Last month, the Africa Travel Association, in partnership with the Rwanda Development Board, convened key stakeholders and decision-makers within African Tourism at its 41st Annual World Tourism Conference in Kigali, Rwanda. This year’s conference attracted public and private sector leaders from 26 countries across the continent and beyond including Botswana, China, Canada, Egypt, Ethiopia, Ghana, Nigeria, Switzerland, South Africa, Thailand, UAE, United Kingdom, Zimbabwe and more. This was also the first time the event was hosted under the leadership of the Corporate Council on Africa. The majority of the discussions that took place at our plenaries, break-out sessions and my private meetings were centered on the importance of Africa’s tourism industry as a key driver of economic growth in the region.
According to the UN World Tourism (UNWTO) 2017 report, Africa remains one of the fastest-growing regions for the travel and tourism sector globally, and in 2016 international tourist arrivals grew by 8 percent with a total of 58 million international tourists.
At the opening ceremony on August 29, H.E. Paul Kagame, President of Rwanda, outlined Rwanda’s tourism agenda and objectives. He said the tourism industry is “Rwanda’s biggest foreign exchange earner,” but noted that “we can and should do better” to harness the full potential of the tourism industry which “requires continued focus and investment.” The Rwandan government seeks to achieve this through providing quality education and investments in services and infrastructure to support the sector’s expansion. And Rwanda is already experiencing success in its tourism industry. It is ranked among the top 10 performing African countries on visa openness, according to the second edition of the Africa Visa Openness Index conducted by the African Development Bank (AfDB). The report also indicates that Rwanda has seen an increase in African business and leisure travelers which has in turn generated an economic impact that is still growing.
Ms. Clare Akamanzi, CEO, Rwanda Development Board and Dr. Mukhisa Kituyi, UNCTAD Secretary-General spoke to the industry’s changing landscape and rapid growth. “Tourism plays a key role in Rwanda’s economy. Between 2010 and 2016 our tourism receipts doubled to $404 Million,” said Ms. Akamanzi. Dr. Kituyi expounded saying, “Indeed tourism in Africa has been growing substantially. Rising over the past decade from 6 to 8 percent of GDP. Similarly, revenues from the turn of the century have increased three times from $14 billion to $47 billion.”
Ms. Erica Barks-Ruggles, United States Ambassador to Rwanda, highlighted the successful relationship between the U.S. and Rwandan governments to promote biodiversity and ecotourism. Ms. Barks-Ruggles mentioned that the number of tourists continues to increase dramatically in Rwanda and the rest of the continent, noting that, “The United States accounts for the single largest source of tourism in Rwanda as well as the largest single bilateral foreign direct investment country.”
One of the most significant points that was made by speakers during the opening was the importance of diversification. At CCA, we are focused on a range of issues and sectors. At the Tourism Conference, we focused on the connection between tourism and other sectors such as infrastructure, ICT, conservation, capacity building, finance and trade. We heard from leaders in the tourism sector and intersecting industries who discussed the opportunities and challenges to expanding Africa’s tourism sector and leveraging it for inclusive growth.
My hope is that CCA and ATA members will take advantage of the opportunities the African tourism industry presents. As part of our efforts to facilitate opportunities, ATA is launching new initiatives including ATAcademy, which is a platform focused on capacity building, and ATA Connex, which focuses on increasing investments within the industry through facilitating business-to-business and business-to-government linkages. These are just two of several initiatives and programs we plan to roll out over the next year. We look forward to partnering and engaging with you to help unlock Africa’s tourism potential.
Kigali, Rwanda – September 5, 2017: The Africa Travel Association (ATA) hosted the 41st Annual World Tourism Conference in Kigali, Rwanda from August 28-31, 2017. The conference, which was developed to promote tourism as an engine for economic growth across Africa, was attended by H.E. Paul Kagame, President of the Republic of Rwanda, who delivered the keynote address.
Hosted in collaboration with the Rwanda Development Board (RDB), The 41st Annual World Tourism Conference attracted a select group of more than 200 public and private stakeholders in the African tourism sector including ministers of tourism, senior officials of national tourism boards from across the continent, airlines, hotels, travel agents and tour operators, as well digital platforms and service providers in the tourism industry such as TripAdvisor, Expedia, MasterCard, Tastemakers Africa, Facebook, Uber, Afro Tourism, Tourvest, and Marriott International.
In addition to President Kagame, other notable guests included Dr. Mukhisa Kituyi, UNCTAD Secretary-General, Ms. Clare Akamanzi, CEO of RDB and the United States Ambassador to Rwanda, Amb. Erica Barks Ruggles.
“Rwanda, like other countries on the continent, is keen to convert our favourable demographics into economic growth and prosperity,” said President Kagame in his keynote address. “The services sector – in particular, tourism – provides some of the best opportunities.”
Tourism is already doing well in Rwanda and the country is a strong example of how tourism can boost economic growth. The tourism sector is the country’s largest foreign exchange earner and Rwanda has liberalized its visa policies, which has led to a huge growth in tourists especially from Africa. The government is also investing heavily in infrastructure including a new airport to support a growing number of tourists. President Kagame did note however, that more could still be done to grow Rwandan tourism especially by harnessing technology and the new opportunities technological innovation can bring.
“This conference is particularly important to us, because tourism plays a key role in Rwanda’s economy,” said Ms. Clare Akamanzi, CEO of RDB, who welcomed attendees to Rwanda. According to Ms. Akamanzi, Rwanda’s tourism receipts doubled between 2010 and 2016 to more than USD $400 million.
CCA President and CEO, Ms. Florie Liser focused on the unique role ATA and CCA will play in the sector’s development “Under CCA’s new vision and leadership, I would like to affirm our commitment to continuing the promotion of sustainable development of tourism to and within Africa through new initiatives,” said Ms. Liser. One of those initiatives, ATAcademy, is a platform to support capacity building and inclusive growth for tourism professionals on the continent. The second initiative, ATA Connex, will focus on increasing investments in tourism through facilitated business-to-business and business-to-government linkages.
As part of the ATAcademy initiative, ATA hosted a series of capacity building sessions at the conference. Travel agents and tour operators attended sessions focused on North American travelers and on the tourism market and sustainability. “The United States - we are pleased to say - accounts for the single largest source of tourism in Rwanda as well as the largest single bilateral foreign direct investment country,” said U.S. Ambassador Erica Barks Ruggles.
UNCTAD Secretary-General, Dr. Mukhisa Kituyi, shared highlights of the recent UNCTAD report on African tourism, Economic Development in Africa Report 2017: Tourism for Transformative and Inclusive Growth. “The most startling and interesting discovery in our study is that by far, the fastest growing tourism in Africa is intra-African tourism,” said Dr, Kituyi. “Intra-African tourism is 12 months a year.” Over the last 10 years, intra-African tourism has grown from 34 percent to 44 percent of total African tourism revenues and is projected to be more than 50 percent in the next 10 years. Dr. Kituyi also emphasized a need to change Africa’s image perception and the importance of peace and security for tourism to thrive.
In less than 15 years, Africa’s travel and hospitality industries have quadrupled in size, and the continent remains one of the world’s fastest-growing tourist destinations, second only to Southeast Asia. The 41st World Tourism Conference featured more than 20 in-depth plenaries and breakout sessions with industry experts and professionals to discuss the latest trends and insights in African tourism and how best to grow the continent’s market share.
This year was the first time ATA’s Tourism Conference was hosted in Rwanda. The conference aligned with Kwita Izina, Rwanda’s annual gorilla naming ceremony, a national celebration creating awareness of the country's efforts to protect the jewel of Rwanda’s tourism crown: the mountain gorillas and their habitat.
The Africa Travel Association (ATA), a division of the Corporate Council on Africa (CCA), will host the 41st Annual World Tourism Conference on August 28-31, 2017 in Kigali, Rwanda. ATA’s flagship event focused on promoting tourism opportunities across Africa will be hosted in partnership with the Rwandan Development Board (RDB) and will feature businesses such as the National Basketball Association (NBA) and Facebook.
The 2017 World Tourism Conference will mark many firsts: This will be the first time ATA’s Tourism Conference will be hosted in Rwanda. It will also be the first time ATA’s flagship conference is hosted under new leadership at RDB and CCA. Ms. Clare Akamanzi was appointed as the new CEO of RDB on February 9, 2017 and Ms. Florizelle Liser began her tenure as the third President and CEO of CCA on January 23, 2017.
“Through ATA, CCA aims to promote Africa as a premier tourist destination and support investment and policies that contribute to the industry’s growth,” said CCA President and CEO, Florizelle Liser. “The tourism conference will highlight opportunities in the tourism sector and intersecting sectors such as infrastructure, ICT, health, real estate development, and finance. Through strategic partnerships, we will also offer capacity building workshops for travel professionals of all levels. I look forward to working with Ms. Akamanzi and her team at RDB to showcase all that Rwanda has to offer to all parties of the tourism ecosystem.”
Several exciting events will take place on the sidelines of the ATA conference this year including Rwanda’s Annual Gorilla Naming Ceremony, which will offer participants a unique opportunity to experience one of Rwanda’s most celebrated traditions. The United Nations has also designated 2017 as the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development. The U.N. designation and recent release of the “UNCTAD Economic Development in Africa Report 2017: Tourism for Transformative and Inclusive Growth” highlights the importance of sustainable tourism. “Tourism is a dynamic sector with phenomenal potential in Africa. Properly managed, it can contribute immensely to diversification and inclusion for vulnerable communities,” said Mukhisa Kituyi, the Secretary-General of UNCTAD. The ATA Conference will spotlight businesses and countries leading the way in sustainable tourism in Africa and show that conservation is good business.
Africa’s travel and hospitality industry has quadrupled in size in less than 15 years, and according to the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), Africa is one of the world’s fastest-growing tourist destinations, second only to Southeast Asia. Travel and tourism’s impact on the economic and social development of African countries can be enormous. Hon. Dr Walter Mzembi (MP), the Minister of Tourism and Hospitality Industry of Zimbabwe spoke about these opportunities at CCA’s 2017 U.S.-Africa Business Summit in Washington D.C. on June 15, 2017, asking the important question of whether Africa can accommodate the millions of tourists expected from around the world, including from China. ““To get there we must guarantee barrier free, safe and secure travel that starts with Africa visiting itself,” said Hon. Mzembi.
The 41st Annual World Tourism Conference will bring together African leaders, international investors and travel professionals to set the stage for how tourism can be utilized as an engine for economic growth and job creation across the continent. The conference will especially focus on innovative business models, new technologies and strategic partnerships. The event will also provide a platform to network and explore new tourism markets and products including the promotion and preservation of Africa’s rich cultural heritage and wildlife.
The Conference will be held at the Kigali Convention Centre (KCC), a state of the art facility comprised of a five-star hotel with 292 rooms, a conference hall that can host 5,500 people, several meeting rooms, as well as an office park.
To learn more about ATA’s upcoming World Tourism Conference, please visit www.ataRwanda.com.
Photos, top to bottom:
1.) Volcanoes National Park, Rwanda
2.) Guests dressed in traditional attire walk around gorilla mascots before the start of the Annual Mountain Gorilla Naming Ceremony.
3.) The Kigali Convention Centre
South African Airways (SAA) has been announced a winner at the World Airline Awards for fifteen consecutive years.
At this year’s World Airline Awards run by aviation experts Skytrax, the airline won the Best Staff Service award as part of the highly acclaimed international awards held at the Paris Air Show.
SAA also managed to retain its 4-Star rating for the 15th year in a row.
Lee Litumbe’s mission is simple: she is in “spirited pursuit” of travel, adventure, and new cultural experiences. As a self-taught photographer and storyteller, Lee uses photography to shape poignant narratives on cultural immersion; bringing fresh perspectives to travel experiences off-the-beaten track. After spending 19 years living in the US, she decided to move back to Africa and travel long term to create and produce dynamic content surrounding tourism opportunities within the continent.
A recent study by the University of Cape Town Unilever Institute of Strategic Marketing, titled African Lions, estimates there are over 100 million middle-class people in sub-Saharan Africa (excluding South Africa). With a combined spending power of US$400m per day, this group presents a sizeable opportunity for fast-moving consumer goods companies.
The UCT team defines the middle class as those who: 1) earn over $4 per day; 2) have disposable income; 3) are employed, run a business or are studying; 4) made it to secondary school; and 5) are not earning more than $70 per day. They interviewed a sample of 7,500 people living in 10 African cities – Abidjan (Côte d’Ivoire), Accra (Ghana), Lagos (Nigeria), Kano (Nigeria), Douala (Cameroon), Luanda (Angola), Lusaka (Zambia), Dar es Salaam (Tanzania), Nairobi (Kenya) and Addis Ababa (Ethiopia).
Urgent Policies Required for Inclusive Tourism Growth, Intra-Africa Trade and Visa Openness, Says Africa Tourism Monitor
More than ever before, African countries need to craft economic and trade policies that will foster inclusive and green tourism growth, intra-Africa trade, and contribute to visa openness for a borderless and interconnected continent, according to the latest edition of the Africa Tourism Monitor.
Ethiopian Airlines Enterprise plans to buy 10 of Airbus SE’s newest A350 wide-body jets in a transaction worth more than $3 billion at advertised prices, according to people familiar with the plan.
The deal is set to be announced this week at the Paris Air Show, according to the people, who asked not to be named as the order negotiations are private. Ethiopian will take the mid-sized A350-900 version of the plane, which has a list price of $311 million, according to one person.
Jun 16, 2017: The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has released new data showing that the air transport sector in Kenya supports some 620,000 jobs including tourism-related employment while contributing $3.2 billion or 5.1 percent of the East African nation’s GDP. These findings are conducted by Oxford Economics on behalf of IATA.