…Joins international community in supporting tourism development
By Nkechi Isaac
The African Development Bank (AfDB) has highlighted the importance of developing a sustainable and resilient tourism industry through innovation, entrepreneurship and technology.
This is even as it called for collaborative actions from all stakeholders for sustainable tourism development in Africa, saying tourism and travel industry in the continent could serve as an engine of progress for socio-economic transformation.
The bank said the United Nations’ World Tourism Day, with the theme ‘Sustainable Tourism − A Tool for Development’, presented a unique opportunity to raise awareness about the contribution of sustainable tourism among public and private sector decision-makers and the international community.
In addition to its investments in tourism infrastructure (ports, airports, roads and rail, among others), the AfDB is promoting the creative and cultural industries to diversify the economic base of African countries and attract tourism. The bank has, through various initiatives, given tourism development a new focus.
Through its Fashionomics Africa initiative, the AfDB is supporting the development of creative industries that utilize local products, especially cotton, in Africa. The bank’s Food Cuisine Africa platform connects key players and newcomers in the food industry in Africa.
Omoyemi Akerele, founder of Lagos Fashion and Design Week, stressed how the fashion industry fuels sustainable tourism.
“Fashion weeks (fashion industry events) generate considerable foot traffic for cities like Lagos, which hosts the annual Lagos Fashion and Design Week. But there needs to be a deliberate attempt on the part of African governments to tap into the potential that fashion has to grow the tourism industry,” Akerele said.
AfDB’s Visa Openness Index measures how open African countries are when it comes to visas by looking at what they ask of citizens from other countries in Africa when they travel.
Visa openness blends with AfDB’s ‘Integrate Africa’ agenda, which seeks to make Africa more open, prosperous and interconnected.
After adopting a visa-on-arrival policy, Rwanda witnessed a 22 percent annual increase in the number of tourism arrivals for meetings, conferences and events. Many visitors in turn have become investors in the country.
“Of course, visa openness is not the solution to all problems, structural aspects such as the size of the market, infrastructure connectivity, and purchasing power are as important. Visa openness is really a quick-win,” said Jean-Guy Afrika, principal policy expert at the AfDB.