Investour 2019: Training and innovation are key to the development of resilient African tourism

Investour 2019

“For Africa, the only way is up!”, said the Secretary General of the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), Zurab Pololikashvilli, this morning during the opening of the tenth Investour, the Forum for Tourism Investment and Business in Africa. “The continent has great potential that has largely not yet been explored”, he continued, before recalling that today is International Education Day and declaring that it is necessary to improve training to create quality jobs in this sector and others.

Investour opened its doors this morning in Fitur with more than 350 attendees and 24 ministers gathered at the IFEMA North Convention Centre in an atmosphere of optimism and celebration. The Spanish Minister for Industry, Trade and Tourism, Reyes Maroto, was the special guest at the tenth anniversary of this meeting. The inauguration was also attended by Poloikashvili; the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, Fernando Valenzuela; the Director General of Casa África, Luis Padrón, and the Director General of IFEMA, Eduardo López Puertas. The Investour conference is organised by the UNWTO, Fitur and Casa África. The event was first held a decade ago and is now firmly established as the most important international event to reflect on the present and future of the tourism sector in Africa.

Pololikashvili said in his speech that tourism can contribute to the creation of the much-needed jobs of the future and that “it is at the centre of the machinery that makes the world move forward”. The head of the UNWTO announced the presentation of five start-ups from Ethiopia, Senegal, South Africa, Uganda and Zimbabwe who are eligible for a scholarship from the Instituto de Empresa Business School (IE), a partner of the UNWTO and a world-leader in the education of executives and business people.

“Spain’s position in the world is undoubtedly an excellent platform for Spain’s foreign policy and the Africa Plan plays an important role in it”, said Minister Maroto in her speech. “As a world leader in tourism, Spain holds a leading position based on knowledge, but also on co-operation. We want to be a positive influence and lead the European Union’s tourism agenda for Africa, an agenda committed to the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals, which should serve to promote a 21st century tourism policy that contributes to sustainable and inclusive development. 

Luis Padrón, Director General of Casa África, also stated that the institution’s mission is to bring Africa closer to Spain and that this initiative, the most important in Casa África’s economic diplomacy activities, fulfils this objective by “offering a space that favours the creation and reinforcement of Spanish-African networks of contacts and common projects”.

This morning, Investour hosted the signing of several agreements with the Ministers responsible for Tourism of three African countries: a memorandum of understanding for technical cooperation between Tunisia and the UNWTO and separate agreements with the tourism ministers in Mali and Cape Verde, in the first case to host the UNWTO 62nd Commission for Africa (CAF) in June and in the second, to host the First Ministerial Conference on Tourism and Air Transport in Africa in March, organised by the UNWTO and the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO).

In addition, recognition was given to the Rwandan Greg Bakunzi, an entrepreneur who founded and owns Amohoro Tours and Red Rocks Rwanda. According to Elcia Grandcourt, UNWTO Director for Africa and Investour’s Official Host, Bakunzi has participated in the event in each of its ten years and does a remarkable job of combining adventure, experience and education and, through his project, getting local communities to develop the environment and take responsibility for protecting it. “Red Rocks focuses on transforming lives and bringing positive change to communities around Volcanoes National Park, where Greg and his team operate”, said Grandcourt.

The head of the UNWTO Africa department also presented a video summary of the ten years of Investour created by Casa África and entitled How far we’ve come, together and then moved the programme on to panels on security and digital transformation.

The first panel discussion was on security, entitled Safe Travel in Africa: Building resilience and risk management in the tourism sector. It was moderated by Dirk Glaesser, director of Sustainable Tourism Development at the UNWTO. The second panel focused on new technologies, under the title Digital transformation, innovation and the promotion of niche tourism products, moderated by Adrienne Klasa, editor of the Financial Times Group’s magazines The Banker and fDi.

Between the two panel discussions, the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (Nepad) presented its project Tourism Tech Adventure: Promoting Innovation in African Tourism, developed in collaboration with the UNWTO, and presented the five African start-ups that have elected to train at IE.  The musician Abdellahe Al Fan opened and closed the morning programme, and the event continued in the afternoon with B2B meetings between business people, entrepreneurs and experts from Africa and other continents.

Investour is supported by Nepad, the Ivory Coast Tourism Agency, INFECAR and Quantum Solutions Emerging Markets and by partners such as the Moroccan Tourist Office in Madrid, Voyages Afrique, EBIZ Africa Review and vhholink.

The growth and consolidation of the forum in recent years has gone hand in hand with the growing importance of the tourism sector in Africa. According to data recently released by the UNWTO, the world has experienced the highest growth in tourist arrivals since 2010, with 1.3 billion travellers in 2017, and this growth was especially significant in Africa, where arrivals increased by 8.6% compared to the world average of 7%.

Africa received nearly 63 million visitors who spent $37 billion during that year. Most were concentrated in the Maghreb, while in sub-Saharan Africa the leading country is South Africa (more than 10 million arrivals), followed by Zimbabwe (2.4 million) and Ivory Coast (1.5 million).

This event is organised within the framework of the CONFIAFRICA project, co-financed by the European Union through the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) under the INTERREG MAC cooperation programme (Azores, Madeira and the Canary Islands).

Video clip from Investour 2019

Investour Video 2009-2019, celebrating a decade of promoting tourism in Africa



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