In an effort to regain its pre-pandemic tourism status by 2024, Botswana is hosting the 5th Africa Tourism Leadership Forum and Awards, and has committed to hosting the event for the next 3 years.
Speaking at the official opening of the three-day event which commenced Monday at the Gaborone International Convention Center, Botswanan Minister of Environment and Tourism Philda Kereng made it clear that the event was not just about coming up with ideas that will drive Botswana forward. “We are building destination Africa and strengthening south-to-south linkages,” she said.
The event co-organized by the Africa Tourism Partners, the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), as well as the Botswana Government, among other international stakeholders has since attracted more than 40 countries in Africa and beyond, all culminating in 450 in-person participants and hundreds of others attending virtually.
To succeed in an era in which the tourism industry is experiencing rapid change inspired by advancing technology, Botswanan President Mokgweetsi Masisi emphasized that tourism is a dynamic and comprehensive industry that requires the ability to constantly adapt to the customers’ changing needs and desires, as their satisfaction, safety, and enjoyment are the focus industries.
“A new generation of tourists is emerging and the hospitality of the tourism sector is undergoing a fundamental shift,” he said, further urging industry players to undertake an in-depth analysis of trends influencing travel patterns and see how they can take advantage of the opportunities brought to the tourism sector.
The 5th Africa Tourism Leadership Forum (ATLF) challenges them to rethink tourism and devise strategies to build resilience considering that the UNWTO’s theme for this year is Rethinking Tourism, Masisi said.
The ATLF is a Pan-African dialogue platform that brings together key stakeholders of Africa’s travel, tourism, hospitality and aviation sectors to network, share insights, and devise strategies for intra-Africa travel and tourism growth across the continent while enhancing the brand equity of “Destination Africa.” It is also the only forum of its kind in Africa that highlights tourism as a major economic pillar to diversify African economies.
“The 2022 event challenges us to work smarter as Africa, taking advantage of technology as well as ensuring maximum returns on investment in the tourism industry,” he stressed.
Countries such as Ghana, South Africa, and Rwanda have since acknowledged the crucial role of the ATLF in tourism development by using the initiative to jumpstart their programs. In the same vein, Botswana will leverage this 5th Africa Tourism Leadership Forum and Awards to drive intra-African tourism, and also position itself as another compelling destination in Africa for meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions.
“Tourism is a main contributor to the national economy and has tremendous potential for growth. The government of Botswana is committed to growing the sector as part of its economic diversification strategy, the sector is committed to a rebound in 2022 due to more relaxed travel restrictions and a well-thought-out strategy to ensure growth in the domestic market and recovery in the regional and international markets,” Masisi said.
Botswana is of the view that working together and forging partnerships is key to building sustainable tourism economies on the continent renowned for its beauty, a continent that should continue to maintain this reputation by educating and promoting the unique natural beauty and history that defines the people of Africa and the globally distinct continent. Enditem