Maputo, Mozambique, December 6, 2023 / TRAVELINDEX / At the opening of the 9th FIKANI International Tourism Fair in Maputo, Elcia Grandcourt, UNWTO Regional Director for Africa, delivered a keynote speech addressing the current state and promising future of tourism on the continent.
In her opening remarks, Mrs Grandcourt expressed immense honour and pleasure in joining the festivities, extending appreciation to Mozambique for its warm hospitality. She expressed eagerness to explore the wonders of the country, remarking, “It is indeed an immense honour to discuss current challenges, future perspectives and trends of our industry in the African continent with key stakeholders gathered for this important event.”
Elcia painted a vivid picture of the global tourism landscape, emphasising its resilience despite the profound impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. “Tourism, one of the fastest-growing socio-economic sectors, faced unprecedented consequences, transforming the worldwide landscape. However, after a period of economic decline and standstill, tourism has demonstrated its resilience, building back stronger.”
Turning her attention to Africa, Mrs Grandcourt revealed encouraging statistics, stating, “Africa confirmed the positive trend by regaining 92% of pre-crisis visitors, demonstrating resilience and sustained recovery.” She spotlighted nations like Ethiopia, Tanzania, and Morocco, exceeding pre-pandemic levels in January-July 2023, signaling stability and growth.
Mozambique emerged as a beacon of success within the region. The Regional Director commended the country for its innovative marketing strategies, leveraging digital platforms to boost tourism arrivals, earnings, and receipts. “Mozambique stands out as a successful example, demonstrating the resilience of its tourism sector to adapt and face new challenges.”
Grandcourt applauded Mozambique’s proactive visa facilitation policies, exempting nationals of 29 countries from visa requirements since May 2023. The introduction of the innovative e-Visa system, part of Mozambique’s ‘Economic Acceleration Stimulus Package,’ aims to attract tourism, business, and investment to the country.
Connectivity challenges in Africa were not overlooked. Grandcourt emphasised UNWTO’s collaboration with key partners, including the African Union, ICAO, IATA, AFRAA and AFCAC, to address these issues. “The collaborative approach with national administrations, airlines, and organisations is critical to pursue the ambitious ‘open skies project.’”
Grandcourt underscored the importance of attracting investments and fostering private-public partnerships for sustainable tourism development. She introduced UNWTO’s investment guidelines and, in collaboration with Mozambique, launched the “Invest in Mozambique” guidebook.
Digitalization and innovation took centre stage as Grandcourt highlighted UNWTO’s Digital Futures Programme, aiming to support SMEs in the tourism value chain through mentorship and online training. “Harnessing innovation and digital advances provide tourism with opportunities to improve inclusiveness, local commYU8unity empowerment, and efficient resource management.”
Education and human capital development were identified as key to Africa’s tourism evolution. Grandcourt emphasised UNWTO’s initiatives, including Tourism Education Guidelines, Education Toolkit, and the UNWTO – HSLU Bachelor of Science in International Sustainable Tourism.
Mrs Grandcourt announced upcoming key events, including the 2nd UNWTO Regional Conference on Brand Africa in Zambia and the 67th UNWTO Regional Commission for Africa in Algeria. She thanked participants for their commitment, stating, “A more sustainable development for our sector is possible only if we join our forces and work together to shape the future of Africa’s tourism.”