African Tourism Leadership Forum will tackle the issue of tourism on the continent. Picture: Supplied

With the second annual African Tourism Leadership Forum (ATLF) around the corner, the spotlight has been set on Africa and how it can maximise its tourism sector. 

Research reveals that despite Africa's potential, the continent has not been able to leverage these competitive strengths for its developmental objectives. 

Two countries, Mauritius and Seychelles, achieved this - making it a popular destination for travellers. 

Reflecting on the importance of such a gathering at a time when Africa is grappling with how to ensure young people, in particular, are not excluded from the labour market amid the Fourth Industrial Revolution, UN World Tourism Organisation’s Zurab Pololikashvili urged delegates to “dream boldly about the future of the continent and tourism’s place in that picture”.

“Delegates must then put in place the plans which can be incrementally implemented to achieve this vision.”

Dogley from Seychelles said: “Building a successful tourism sector amid other challenges is not easy, but it can be done with focus and consistency. I am hopeful that the Seychelles experience can inspire others in the sector.”

Mauritius’s Minister Gayan said similar to Seychelles, Mauritius has built a thriving tourism industry which includes bringing all stakeholders together. 

“We are also able to leverage relations with corporate partners in other countries to create packages that make it seamless to travel to Mauritius. I will be available to share this experience with delegates to the ATLF,” said Gayan. 

The tourism industry has to consider sustainability, especially as the realities of climate change become increasingly apparent. The SADC region cannot, for instance, ignore the real threat it faces as a water-scarce region.

Zambia’s Ronald Kaoma Chitotela believes Africa has so much to offer the world. 

“We need to work together to promote our continent as a competitive tourism destination. The ATLF 2019 will bring many players in the sector together, and we should use this platform to begin to craft implementable plans to achieve our overall objective.”

Kwakye Donkor, chief executive of African Tourism Partners, said it was Africa’s time to shine. 

“The recent signing of the Continental Free Trade Agreement provides the impetus for the sector to look at how to create the conditions for the free movement of goods, services and people both within the continent and beyond. We must not lose this moment,” he said.

The event takes place from August 27-29. Register here.