UNWTO urges continued tourism investment in Africa
Speakers at the Forum echoed Mr. Rifai's remarks, underscoring the importance of tourism to the continent in terms of its socio-economic development. Mr. Bello Bouba Maigari, Minister of Tourism and Leisure of Cameroon, spoke of how tourism projects across Central Africa were helping thousands to cross the poverty line. Mr. Nyamajeje Calleb Weggoro of the East African Community (EAC) highlighted Africa's many tourism assets: "we have barely scrapped the surface of our potential," he said.
Recognizing the potential of tourism in advancing developments goals, Mr. Ricardo Martínez Vázquez, Director General of Casa Africa, stressed the importance of the sector in the global cooperation agenda: "with one billion people expected to travel the world in 2012, we need to include tourism as a priority within Spanish foreign policy and cooperation actions," he said.
INVESTOUR, now in its third year, aims to increase the visibility of Africa as a tourism destination and mobilize investment for sustainable tourism projects in the region. Over 25 African countries were represented at the Forum which included a series of presentations and debates followed by business-to-business meetings between Africa tourism companies and authorities and Spanish private sector representatives. Co-organized by UNWTO, Casa Africa and the international tourism trade fair FITUR, the 2012 edition featured the Economic Community of Central African States (CEMAC) and the East African Community (EAC) as specially invited regions.
International tourism in Africa grew from 27 million international tourist arrivals in 2000 to 50 million in 2011. International tourism receipts, a vital source of foreign exchange in the region, tripled in just one decade (from US$ 10 billion in 2000 to US$ 30 billion in 2010).
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About World Tourism Organization (UNWTO)
The World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) is the United Nations agency responsible for the promotion of responsible, sustainable and universally accessible tourism. As the leading international organization in the field of tourism, UNWTO promotes tourism as a driver of economic growth, inclusive development and environmental sustainability and offers leadership and support to the sector in advancing knowledge and tourism policies worldwide. UNWTO encourages the implementation of the Global Code of Ethics for Tourism, to maximize tourism"s socio-economic contribution while minimizing its possible negative impacts, and is committed to promoting tourism as an instrument in achieving the United Nations Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), geared towards reducing poverty and fostering sustainable development. UNWTO generates market knowledge, promotes competitive and sustainable tourism policies and instruments, fosters tourism education and training, and works to make tourism an effective tool for development through technical assistance projects in over 100 countries around the world. UNWTO"s membership includes 156 countries, 6 Associate Members and over 400 Affiliate Members representing the private sector, educational institutions, tourism associations and local tourism authorities. For more information visit www.unwto.org.