In the President’s remarks, he emphasized the role tourism plays in generating revenue for nations and the strong potential for investment across Africa.
“If you are talking about tourism, you’re talking about wealth creation – in the modern sense you are talking about money and profitability,” said President Museveni. “With our abundance of natural and wildlife resources, Africa is not getting the attention that it should; yet our potential is great. The time for investment is now.”
For the eighth year in a row, the Africa Travel Association (ATA), in partnership with co-host, New York University-Africa House, organized the high-level forum, which attracted over 250 people, including representatives from the travel and tourism industry, the diplomatic community and students and faculty from NYU. Ali Velshi, Host of Real Money with Ali Velshi at Al Jazeera America once again moderated the event.
“This year’s forum highlighted the growing importance that tourism plays in generating economic growth,” said Edward Bergman, ATA’s Executive Director. “The President’s remarks reinforced the reality that tourism creates jobs and generates revenue. He also reinforced our own goal of mobilizing investment in the industry to ensure that Africa is leveraging the opportunity for growth and creating partnerships that can make it happen.”
The day-long program also included a spotlight on one of ATA’s longtime members, Tanzania, with the presentation of the Tanzania Tourist Board (TTB) awards. Established in 2000, the awards honor outstanding travel companies who have promoted tourism to Tanzania from the U.S. market, one of the largest single tourism market for the East African country.
The 2013 TTB awards were presented to three industry leaders by Hon. Ambassador Khamis S. Kagasheki, Minister for Natural Resources and Tourism, who was joined by H.E. Liberata Mulamula, Tanzanian Ambassador to the USA. African Travel Inc. received the Tour Operator Southern/Western Circuit award; Africa Adventure Consultants received the Tour Operator Product Development Award; and Elite Traveler Magazine received the Luxury Travel Media Award.
Highlighting the diversity of Africa’s tourism products, The Gambia, led by Momodou Joof, the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Tourism and Culture, presented the International Roots Festival, to be held in the West African country between May 9-17, 2014. In its eleventh edition, the event is designed to provide visitors with an opportunity to explore the cultural heritage of African Americans in a week-long program that includes a Roots Pilgrimage to Kunte Kinte Island and Juffureh, a traditional Boat Race, a symposium and a rites of passage ceremony. After the Presidential Forum, the Gambian delegation continued to Philadelphia and Atlanta to present the festival at evening network receptions.
At the end of the Presidential Forum, co-host, Dr. Yaw Nyarko, Director of NYU-Africa House, announced the preliminary release of the first Africa Tourism Monitor, a joint publication produced by the Africa Development Bank (AfDB), New York University-Africa and ATA. “This report presents some of the major opportunities and challenges facing the diversification of the travel and tourism industry,” said Dr. Nyarko. “The facts, figures, commentaries and case studies in this issue show how travel and tourism stakeholders across Africa and around the world are taking an innovative approach to growing and sustaining the industry.”
In his remarks, Dr. Nyarko also revealed that Africa continued to show a growth trend, growing from 37 million in 2003 to 63.6 million in 2013. He said that additional findings in the report will be shared at the official launch at ATA’s upcoming World Congress in Cameroon from October 16-20, 2013.
For the third year in a row, ATA’s Young Professionals Program held a roundtable discussion for young professionals and students. This year’s event was organized in cooperation with Applause Africa under the theme, “Africa’s Emerging Travel Trends, Marketing Africa through the Arts: Music Film, Art and Fashion.” Participants included Ryann Holmes, Community Programming Director, Museum of Contemporary African Diasporan Arts, Ella Gorgla, Founder, I-Ella.com, Kobina Brew, U.S. Sales & Marketing, Arik Air, and Sean Barlow, Founder, Afropop Worldwide. Declan Galvin an NYU masters student, facilitated the discussion.
The Tanzania Tourist Board (TTB) and Tanzania National Parks (TANAPA) co-sponsored once again the event with Applause Africa, Arik Air, and The Gambia Roots Festival.
For photos of the event, visit https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10151713195267545.1073741831.92120452544&type=3&uploaded=4.