Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed has called for effective air connectivity within Africa, describing it as a key to unlocking the potential of tourism on the continent.
The minister made the assertion at the 65th Meeting of the United Nations World Tourism Organization-Commission for Africa (UNWTO-CAF) which opened in Arusha, Tanzania, yesterday.
‘’There is no doubt that air transportation is pivotal for any international tourism development (more so in Africa), owing to the need for tourists to move to the product destination. Air travels continue to be the dominant mode of travel for international tourists, accounting for over 50 per cent of all international arrivals
‘’It is obvious, therefore, that growing air transportation into and within the African region, including effective connectivity through the full implementation of the Yamoussoukro Decision on a Single African Air Transport Market is key to unlocking Africa’s tourism potential,’’ he said.
Mohammed urged African ministers of Tourism to co-operate and collaborate with their colleagues African Ministers of Aviation to achieve this (Single African Air Transport Market).
Reeling out statistics to back his assertion, the minister, who also listed unfavourable visa regimes, insecurity, high cost of air transport and low quality of tourism support services among other factors hindering the growth of tourism in Africa, said Africa’s share of global international arrivals remains a paltry five per cent.
‘’The truth is that the performance of the region’s aviation industry, though improving, continues to lag behind that of the rest of the world, accounting for a dismal 3 per cent of the global air transport traffic. Of the 1,431 country pairs between the African Union countries, only 19 per cent had some form of significant direct service in 2019 (that is operated at least once weekly on an annual basis).