A Conference on Tourism and Air Transport in Afric

12 Mar 19

The World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) and the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), have joined forces with the Government of Cabo Verde to host the First UNWTO/ICAO Ministerial Conference on Tourism and Air Transport in Africa (27 - 29 March 2019, Santa Maria, Sal Island, Cabo Verde).

Tourism and aviation are interdependent, as the respective mandates of UNWTO and ICAO reflect at the global level. Whilst UNWTO promotes responsible, sustainable and universally accessible tourism as a driver of economic growth and sustainable development, ICAO sets standards and policies for aviation safety, security, efficiency, environmental protection and economic development of air transport.

The core objective of the Ministerial Conference will align with the United Nations’ Transforming our World: 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, aimed at: a) identifying challenges and opportunities that foster the development of connectivity and seamless travel in the African continent; b) enhancing common understanding and responses to the business imperatives through strengthening dialogue between the two sectors; and c) raising political willingness to mainstream the priorities of the two sectors in the national, regional and global agendas.

This joint UNTWO/ICAO Ministerial event grouping both key decision-makers and stakeholders represents an important milestone for the two sectors. The knowledge and expertise that will be shared will significantly contribute to the delivery of pragmatic, forward-looking solutions and credible means. This will enable African States to maximize and balance the benefits from the future development of tourism and air transport in the continent and obtain a fair share out of the future growth of global tourism.

Africa undoubtedly has a huge tourism and air transport growth potential that remains untapped. In 2018, a record of 1.4 billion tourists crossed international borders, approximately 55% of whom arrived to their destinations by air. Africa´s tourism sector grew at an estimated 8% and reached a record 67 million international arrivals. In recognition of tourism’s high dependency on air transport and in light of the critical importance of both tourism and air transport to economic growth and sustainable development, the Conference will focus on Tourism and Air Transport in Africa. 

It is worth noting that African skies have significantly changed with the emergence of new air carriers for the last decades. Positive developments have also been noted in several African hubs since the adoption of the Yamoussoukro Decision concerning the liberalization of access to air transport markets in Africa (endorsed in 2000). However, there is still plenty of room for improvement and a lot of commitment is necessary for the full benefits of the Yamoussoukro Decision to materialize.

The recent launch of the Single Africa Air Transport Market (SAATM) by the African Heads of States in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia on 29 January 2018 has brought 26 African States to formally adhere to its solemn principles. Open skies over the African continent may soon be a reality, building the necessary regulatory framework to increase international intra-African travel, all of which highlight the encouraging effects that regional liberalization has on the sustainable development of air transport.