Jane Larcombe Communications

July 15, 2005 09:14 ET

World Travel Market - Africa Fights Back

LONDON, ENGLAND--(CCNMatthews - July. 15, 2005) -

A WEEK on from the Gleneagles G8 summit and Africa has come out fighting.

Before a penny in debt reduction or aid reaches the continent's pockets of poverty, African countries have fired up their travel and tourism programmes in a bid to bolster income.

A record contingent has signed up to exhibit at World Travel Market, the industry's largest global showcase, in London this year.

Tanzania will be among at least 25 countries represented at the exhibition to build on their tourism campaign. Figures have leaped in ten years from 245,000 tourists to nearly 600,000.

"Tourism is not a quick fix but it is a quicker one," said Peter Mwenuo, managing director of the Tanzanian Tourist Board.

"Tourism could be the number one generator of income for the country by 2020."

Fiona Jeffery, World Travel Market 's Group Exhibition Director, said: "The evidence is there that travel and tourism should be higher up the agenda for world leaders to bring about change and fight poverty in Africa.

"In South Africa, for example, seven visitors to the country create one new job.

"This continent has been trying to help itself for the past 20 years but additional assistance from richer governments would aid tourism development plans create more jobs and put them on the map faster, more effectively and more profitably.

Visitors to Africa last year increased by seven per cent to 33million and the World Tourism Organization reports that figures for the first four months of this year are up 12 per cent.

Peter Mwenuo added: "Last year travel and tourism produced revenue of 746million US dollars and represented 16.3 of the Tanzania GDP. Our target for 2010 is to have one million tourists yielding 1.5 billion dollars.

"Travel and tourism is now the world's largest industry, one in 11 jobs, but Africa has a very small share of that, less than 10per cent.

"That is something to do with the image Africa has - full of conflict, disease,
hunger. The reality is very different.

"I'm sure that Sir Bob Geldof's TV series of the continent can help bring positive change.

"I believe some of the G8 leaders have seen what Africa has to offer and know the strength of travel and tourism.

"Its impact and significance has been underplayed and not enough consideration given to the industry. The thinking has changed over the past few years."

World Travel Market's representative in Africa, Derek Houston, said:"Tourism is a quick way to improve job creation and provide food and help. You don't have to wait 20 years for the money to come through the system. It's instant.

"The income filters down to all levels, bolstering the poorest section, particularly in rural areas.

"Sustainable tourism is the mission and there are now hundreds of examples throughout Africa where the building of game lodges, for example, has gone hand in hand with the opening of new schools and clinics."

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