Shockwaves spread as Africa’s membership numbers on UNWTO Affiliate platform become known

EAST AFRICA’S PRESENCE ON UNWTO AFFILIATE CATEGORY DESCRIBED AS ‘ABYSMAL

(Posted 27th January 2014)

Information has come to light that out of the over 400 UNWTO affiliate members only three are presently from East Africa while the continent overall only has 17 members. All three East African members are notably from Kenya, namely the Kenya Tourism Board, the Kenya Utalii College and the Kenyatta International Convention Centre, while the Kenya Tourism Federation was dropped last year due to their inability to pay the membership fees.

No members are on record from Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi and Tanzania, raising questions over the apparently lack of understanding how potentially useful such membership can be and the benefits accruing from being ‘on board’.

The region is represented at official UNWTO level by the Seychelles’ Minister for Tourism and Culture Alain St. Ange who holds one of the three African seats on the Executive Committee of UNWTO while the former CEO of the Seychelles Tourism Board, Ms. Elsia Grandcourt, is the organization’s Executive Director for Africa.

It was learned from contacts in the Seychelles – Minister St. Ange took the opportunity of his presence at FITUR to participate in several UNWTO meetings – that the two will over the coming months actively promote not only greater participation of African countries in UNWTO affairs and events but also encourage the private sector to join the relevant platforms and make an impact, for their businesses as well as for their countries.

The Seychelles model of bilateral and multilateral MoU’s to establish tourism links with African mainland countries will no doubt play a role and serve as an example of how countries, public sector bodies and companies can cooperate on a regional or continental scale in order to ensure that Africa’s share in overall tourism arrivals, presently standing at a paltry 56 million vis a vis 1.08 billion global arrivals, can be progressively increased in order to attract investments, create jobs and spur foreign exchange earnings among Africa’s leading and emerging tourism destinations. Watch this space.

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