The Conference on Rethinking Africa—Addressing Global Challenges, Promoting Investment and Partnerships in Tourism for Africa—brought expert African perspectives to global challenges. The conference emphasized the necessity of investing in a more environmentally sustainable tourism sector and improving access to financing within the industry. Additionally, it emphasized the importance of enhancing public-private collaboration at all levels.
Tourism Ministers set out visions
Highlighting tourism’s increased significance as a solution to various global challenges and a pillar of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the conference featured two thematic sessions.
The first session included a ministerial panel on addressing global challenges, followed by a second session focused on promoting investment and partnerships in tourism for economic development. Notable attendees included His Excellency Steven Obeegadoo, Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Housing and Land Use Planning, Minister of Tourism for the Republic of Mauritius, and Vice-Chair of the UNWTO Executive Council, alongside Albert Muchanga, Commissioner for Economic Development, Trade, Tourism, Industry, and Minerals at the African Union, who delivered the keynote address.
A special Ministerial Panel Session focusing on global challenges featured contributions from esteemed ministers in the tourism sector. Among the notable participants were:
- Ministers of Tourism of DR Congo Didier Mazenga Mukanzu,
- Minister of Tourism of Ghana Hon. Dr. Mohammed Ibrahim Awal,
- Minister of Tourism, Arts and Culture of Kenya Peninah Malonza,
- Cabinet Secretary for Tourism, Wildlife and Heritage of Zambia, Rhodney Sikumba,
- Ms Lisa Singh, the UN Resident Coordinator for Mauritius and Seychelles,
- Prof Nazia M Habib, Head, Centre for Resilience and Sustainable Development at the University of Cambridge.
Advancing investments and partnerships
Aligned with the priorities set by the UNWTO for the tourism sector, the second session emphasised the significance of establishing strategic relations and partnerships, alongside the pressing need for increased and more targeted investments in tourism.
Furthermore, particular attention was given to enhancing tourism intelligence in projects that hold potential for greater sustainability, resilience, and inclusivity. The session commenced with an introductory overview of the tourism investment climate delivered by UNWTO Executive Director Natalia Bayona. Subsequently, Mr. Kevin Ramkaloan, CEO of Business Mauritius, presented, and messages were shared by Chileshe Mpundu Kapwepwe, Secretary General of The Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA), and Leila Farah Mokadden, Director General of the Southern Africa Region at the African Development Bank.
Botswana’s Minister of Environment and Natural Resources, Conservation and Tourism Philda Kereng, and Hon. Siandou Fofana, Minister of Tourism, Republic of Côte d´Ivoire, also contributed their unique, expert insights into rethinking tourism investments and partnerships. They were joined by Ms. Amanda Serumaga – Resident Representative, United Nations Development Programme for Mauritius and Seychelles, Ms. Michaella Rugwizangoga, Chief Tourism Officer, Rwanda Development Board and Mr. Mamadu Serifo Jaquite, Mamadu Serifo Jaquite, Commissioner in charge of the Department of Human Development of the West African Monetary and Economic Union
The Mauritius Declaration
The conference culminated with the presentation of the Mauritius Declaration by the host country and UNWTO. The program of actions proposed in the Mauritius Declaration, aims to promote sustainable and resilient tourism ecosystems through multi-sectoral partnerships, ethical practices, investment promotion, nature-based solutions, decarbonization, coordination of public health, policy alignment and data-driven decision-making. This program includes a range of measures, including:
- Encourage partnership and tourism ethics;
- The promotion of investment, innovation and accessibility to financing;
- Public health coordination and crisis management;
- The integration of internal and regional tourism;
- The encouragement of responsible and solidarity tourism;
- The implementation of blue tourism;
- Partnerships between public, private and community actors and models of governance; And
- Pan-African Fund for Sustainable Tourism;
To enable this programme to be carried out under the best possible conditions. The Declaration also calls for the support, in accordance with their respective mandates, of the Member States of the UNWTO, the African Union Commission, the regional economic communities organizations, regional aviation institutions, banking institutions, the African Development Bank, international aid partners, donor communities and financial institutions.