Bringing together African Ministers of Air Transport and Tourism for an inaugural Ministerial Conference hosted by Cabo Verde, the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) and the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) stress important messages to their distinguished guests on their sectors’ reciprocal socio-economic benefits.
“Air transport and tourism are major and highly synergistic economic sectors which continue to deliver increasing contributions to global socio-economic prosperity, with a combined contribution to world GDP today of close to 14%,” Dr. Aliu states. “However, in Africa today, the incredible economic potentials of air transport and tourism still remain largely untapped,” he underscores.
In recent years, Africa has accounted for a mere 5% of global tourist arrivals and 3% of global tourism spending, even despite modest recent growth attributable to the revival of the tourism industry in Northern Africa, and improvements to African air connectivity more generally.
Dr. Aliu indicates a variety of associated constraints, including capacity crunches at many African airports, the related lack of finance and investment for infrastructure development and modernization, persisting skilled education and training capacity gaps, and in some jurisdictions ill-conceived market, taxation, and visa facilitation regulation.
While highlighting such existing challenges, the ICAO President reminds his audience that “the African air transport market has the highest potential for growth out of all world regions,” adding; “By working toward these objectives together, both here at this event and well into the future, we will be able to maximize the immense socio-economic benefits offered by air transport and tourism to the benefit of all Africans.”
Significantly, at the end of their deliberations the Ministers approved and adopted the Ministerial Declaration and Action Plan on Air Transport and Tourism Development in Africa. The Declaration calls for the bridging of air transport and tourism policies and the advancement of innovative and sustainable solutions to encourage air connectivity development as a means to deliver the sustainable development goals set forth under the African Union (AU) Agenda 2063 and the United Nations (UN)’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Through the Declaration, the Ministers also agreed to “raise political willingness to the highest level to mainstream the priorities of the two sectors in the national, regional and global development agendas.”
The conference was attended by a total of 300 participants, including 21 Ministers of Air Transport and Tourism, from 34 States and 29 International organisations.