It’s not just about being philanthropic, but also beneficial in the economic sense. He indicated that the number of travellers staying in eco-friendly or ‘green’ accommodation could double with 65% of global travellers expressing this intention versus 34% who stayed in one or more in 2016.
“Where tourists stay on holiday plays a pivotal role in the enjoyment of their trip, so it also plays an increasingly important role in helping people to travel sustainably,” Pololikashvili said.
The UNWTO chief said that sustainable tourism is an initiative the United Nations Specialised Agency for Tourism, and it is important to facilitate this initiative.
His role is to promote tourism’s role in five key areas such as inclusive and sustainable economic growth; social inclusiveness, employment and poverty reduction; resource efficiency, environmental protection and climate change; cultural values, diversity and heritage, and mutual understanding, peace and security.
Pololikashvili said that primary areas for development of the tourism sector in Africa, is to mobilize and respond in a targeted way to requests of individual African member countries in line with the UN Sustainable Development Goals geared towards poverty alleviation.
UNWTO regional director, Elcia Grandcourt said, “International tourist arrivals in Africa are expected to grow from 58 million to 134 million in the next couple of years. So Africa must be prepared for the quantum leap forward.”
Tourism minister Prisca Mupfumira said that sustainable tourism is everyone’s concern, and it is important to increase awareness among travellers and highlight the practical initiatives that destinations in Africa have implemented in their respective countries.
“Tourism is dynamic with phenomenal potential in Africa. If we manage it properly, it can contribute immensely to diversification and inclusion for vulnerable communities. With the same thinking Zimbabwe and Angola will sign a memorandum of association anytime soon. Zimbabwe is open for business and must return to be the preferred tourist destination,” Mupfumira said.
She also added, “Air connectivity is important if tourists are to influx in Zimbabwe. They don’t want to travel for over 10 hours, especially if they can travel for shorter distances using direct flights. British tourists want to fly directly to Harare, but we don’t have any connectivity. We want more airlines to come into Zimbabwe. We are engaging all airlines.”
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