US, Africa partnership discussed at ATA seminar
Wednesday, April 18, 2012
Leaders in travel and tourism sector across the globe recently
converged in Washington D.C. to discuss US and Africa Partnerships, New Media
Marketing Channels for Africa, and Tourism Product Development, such as the
need to set up a West Africa Tourism Radio program that will market Africa’s
tourism products to audiences in Africa and the USA; engage African Diaspora in
tourism promotion in Africa as well as to shift focus on Africa’s culinary
The synergy also availed the two continents’ tourism leaders
to focus on new strategies that will increase arrivals, tourism revenues, and
tourism partnerships between USA and Africa marketplaces.
In an interview with Tourisphere after her return from the
seminar, the Minister of Tourism and Culture Fatou Mass Jobe-Njie, who doubles
as the President of the Africa Travel Association (ATA), said the seminar which
is the fifth one held in Washington has brought together some government
officials and dignitaries in tourism industry to discuss device means of how to
expose Africa's tourism market potential in the USA. She said the forum
accorded her the opportunity to address the delegates as she used the medium to
call on all African diplomatic representatives at the event to work with ATA in
order to promote and advance Destination Africa.
Reference to her speech delivered at the seminar, minister
Jobe-Njie made it clear that “ATA has connected us with key industry leaders
and provided us with tools to overcome the challenges Africa faces as a
continental destination. It is up to us now to take action and work together to
increase tourism arrivals and revenue to our continent.”
The US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Dr. Reuben E.
Brigety, II, Bureau of African Affairs, US Department of State, spoke about the
importance of investing in the growth of Africa’s economic development and in
engaging the US private sector in the process.
Dr Reuben who was quoted as per his statement delivered at
the event said: “Strong growing economies help stabilize democracies, promote
peace and improve social and health conditions” adding that many countries in
Africa are transitioning into a new phase of economic opportunity that, if
managed well, could solidly launch individual economies on a path towards
prosperity, peace and open up new areas for US business.
At the plenary opening, according to minister Jobe-Njie, Edward Bergman, ATA Executive Director, reflected on the current climate for tourism promotion to Africa from the US.
He said: “With President Barack Obama’s announcement on the role tourism can play in driving economic growth and job creation in the USA and Africa’s they will continue growth as a travel destination of choice among US travelers, the momentum of the tourism industry as an economic driver and the pace of US travel to Africa are clear,” adding that, the knowledge of the power of tourism as an economic driver exists and the demand for product and service in Africa is there, which is where ATA has a critical role to play by ensuring that the supply meets the demand.
According to Minister Jobe-Njie, ambassador Amina Ali,
African Union Permanent Representative to the USA, participated in the opening
and highlighted on Africa’s impressive economic performance over the last
decade and its future potential. “She noted ‘Africa’s economic growth could have been even
more pronounced and impressive if it had vigorously harnessed its inherent
tourism potential. The world tourism industry is booming and tourism, to quote
the recent Brent Hurst Foundation discussion paper, tourism has gone global in
the 21st century, no continent stands to benefit more from the 21st century
tourism boom than Africa notwithstanding the global economic crisis” Minister
Jobe quoted ambassador Ali.
It was however confirmed by minister Jobe-Njie that 2012 event in US attracted the highest number of African country’s representatives to date. “Almost twenty countries were present,” she revealed. And the list of the present Africa country’s representatives include Angola, Burundi, Cameroon, Cape Verde, Chad, Egypt, Ethiopia, Gabon, Kenya, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Nigeria, South Africa, Tanzania, Zambia, and Zimbabwe among others. According to her, a record number of 150 participants attended the event, and The Gambia was highly represented and respected at the high-level tourism seminar.
Peter Tichansky, President and CEO of the Business Council joined Minister Jobe-Njie, Dr. Brigety and Mr. Bergman at the opening session for International Understanding (BCIU) and Steven Hayes, President of the Corporate Council on Africa, as well as John Goliath, CEO of UNICOMM Travel & Adventure Show.
The Africa Travel Association (ATA) is the leading global trade association promoting travel and tourism to Africa and strengthening intra-Africa partnerships. It also serves both the public and private sectors of the international travel and tourism industry, with membership comprising African governments, their tourism ministers, tourism bureaus and boards, airlines, cruise lines, hotels, resorts, front-line travel sellers and providers, tour operators and travel agents, and affiliate industries.
Author: Musa Ndow