The Vice Chairperson of the Zambia Tourism Board Mabel Mung’omba and Director Marketing Mwabashike Nkulukusa met with UNWTO Secretary General Dr. Taleb Rifai in Accra Ghana on the sidelines of the UNWTO Regional Conference Enhancing Brand Africa – Fostering Tourism Development, 17-19 August 2015.

Tourism is one of the Africa’s most promising sectors in terms of development, and represents a major opportunity to foster inclusive development, increase the region’s participation in the global economy and generate revenues for investment in other activities, including environmental preservation.

Today, the capacity of the African tourism sector to contribute to socio-economic development across the continent is often hindered by the negative perception of Africa and the generalization of crises situations in specific locations to the whole of a country or the region. Building capacity in Africa to build and manage a strong image and brand, including crises communications, is fundamental to build resilience in the tourism sector and foster its further growth and thus a pre-condition to promote development through tourism in Africa.

Against this backdrop, that the UNWTO Regional Conference on the Image of Africa was held with aims to:

  • Analyse the situation of Brand Africa and its impact on tourism in the region
  • Identify the key challenges facing Brand Africa and that of African countries
  • Exchange national experiences on country branding and tourism branding
  • Explore how African destinations can successfully build a strong brand in an increasingly competitive marketplace and a constantly changing business environment
  • Create synergies among African countries towards greater cooperation in the promotion and positioning of a common African   Tourism Brand

Opening the three-day conference on Monday 17th August 2015 President John Dramani Mahama of Ghana appealed to professional brand experts in Africa, to effectively package and promote the tourists sites of the continent to the international world.

He said: “Marketing and media consultants in the continent need to change the negative perception that people have about the continent by painting a favorable picture to the international world.”

The conference attracted participants made up of Ministers of Tourism, Tourism marketers, experts and consultants from all over the African the continent and beyond.

President Mahama explained that the continent had over the years risen above the expected levels in all the aspects of growth and development and needed to use that as a bargaining chip for change.

He said had Africa leveraged her information, communication and technology levels and with good packaging and promotion, the continent could in the next few years be the one of the leading tourists’ destination of choice.

The President said apart from her riches in natural resources, the African continent is also endowed with beautiful tourist sites that could magnetise many more tourists in the world if well packaged and promoted.

President Mahama said although tourism in 2014 took a nosedive in West Africa because of the outbreak of the Ebola viral disease, many countries are recovering from the reduction of arrivals at the airports.

And Dr. Taleb Rifai, Secretary General of the World Tourism Organisation, said Africa had come of age as one of the world’s fastest growing tourism regions, rising from 26 million international tourists in 2000 to 56 million in 2014 and contributing more than $ 36 billion to the African economy.

“Tourism’s robust expansion in Africa has stimulated economic progress, poverty alleviation and environmental conservation, ultimately making a positive difference in the lives of millions of people.”

It is on the sidelines of this conference that Zambia Tourism Board paid a courtesy call on the UNWTO Secretary General Dr. Taleb Rifai to thank him for having given Zambia and Zimbabwe the opportunity to co-host the 2013 General Assembly and to brief him on the benefits that Zambia is accruing from the 2013 co-hosting of the 20th Session UNWTO General Assembly.

The Secretary General praised Zambia’s commitment and support of the UNWTO objectives. The Secretary General said he was happy to be receiving good news on the historic conference that was co-hosted by the two sister countries.

Ms. Mung’omba briefed the UNWTO Chief that the co-hosting of the UNWTO General Assembly has helped Zambia Tourism Board marketing efforts and the country has gained recognition as a destination of choice for meetings and conferences as can be demonstrated by some conferences that have been held and the upcoming ones such as the African Development Bank meetings and African Parliamentarians conference.

Dr. Rifai said he was very glad to continue receiving positive feed two years after Zambia cohosted the UNWTO General Assembly in 2013. The UNWTO chief assured the ZTB team of the organisation’s commitment to supporting its members in particular the Secretary General called on the ZTB Chairperson to speed up the process of identifying one unique project that can be done in Livingstone to honour the city of Livingstone and the town of Victoria Falls as promised by the UNWTO.

He informed Ms. Mung’omba that the funds were available for this project and only awaiting for Zambia and Zimbabwe to come agree on what should be done for the two towns of Livingstone and Victoria Falls.

In response Ms. Mung’omba said she will take up the matter with the Permanent Secretary to see how to move forward. She said the honoring of the two towns that successfully co-hosted the General Assembly will not only enhance the branded but will also go a long way in pushing forward the marketing afforest of the two sister countries.

Issued by: Percy Mabvuto Ngwira (Mr.)

First Secretary – Tourism / UNWTO Liaison Officer for Zambia Accra, Ghana