The 6th annual Africa Tourism Leadership Forum & Awards concluded in Gaborone, Botswana, on Friday (October 6) with a strong message of the need to stop discussing collaboration and strategy and “just do it!”.
The forum kicked off with a vibrant day of trading and training at the Gaborone International Convention Centre. Themed “Transformational Entrepreneurship and Intra-Africa Business to Business Networking Sessions,” a prelude to the main event, which featured insightful presentations by industry experts with over 600 delegates from over 42 countries in attendance this year. A total of 70% of attendees were from Africa.
Some of the most important issues to address collective barriers to tourism growth through the new apex body included ensuring sustainability, open skies in Africa, affordable airfares, doing away with visas for AfCFTA member states, cutting regulation red tape, harmonizing regulations and upskilling the tourism workforce.
However, CEO of the Tourism Business Council of South Africa and Interim Chair of the SADC Business Council Tourism Alliance, Tshifhiwa Tshivhengwa, noted that one of the biggest challenges was that there was still a lack of political will to stop talking and start walking.
“The continent is still divided and every country plays by its own rules. To get this grand vision to work, we need to single-mindedly address all the barriers and start demonstrating the value of working together to our respective governments,” he said.
One of the big steps in the right direction was the endorsement, at the start of the three-day ATLF 2023, of the Africa Tourism Private Sector Alliance (ATPSA) by the Africa Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) Secretariat.
According to CEO of Africa Tourism Partners – the organisers of ATLF – Kwakye Donkor, the objective is to use this body to leverage the opportunities under the AfCFTA.
He said the AfCFTA Protocol on Trading in Services highlighted travel and transport as one of five priority sectors.
AfCFTA is making headway with 54 (of 55 African countries) having signed the agreement, and 47 countries having ratified the agreement by August this year.
Botswana is the latest country to have ratified the agreement with its Minister of Tourism, Philda Nani Kereng, pointing out that AfCFTA was the right platform to “unearth and uncover” opportunities for the tourism sector on the continent by driving connectivity, collaboration and community upliftment.
The annual awards also took place on Friday (October 6). The 2023 Africa Tourism Leadership Awards were not just about recognizing excellence; they were a testament to the passion, innovation, and dedication that drove Africa’s tourism industry forward, said CEO of Africa Tourism Partners – which organises the event – Kwakye Donkor.
One of the winners included Tourism Update and Adele Mackenzie, Tourism Update Editor, who accepted the award on behalf of the publication – said: “For a trade publication, with a small core team, to be nominated in the same category as a multinational broadcaster is an immense honour. We remain committed to providing news updates and insights to help the travel, tourism and hospitality industry make informed business decisions.”
The full list of award-winners:
Leading in Progressive Policies Award
Affairs under the Office of the President of Ghana.
Outstanding Entrepreneurship Award
Lizanne Du Plessis, Eco Africa Digital – South Africa.
Outstanding Africa Tourism Media and Marketing Award
CNBC Africa, South Africa.
Women in Leadership Award
Lizanne du Plessis, South Africa.
Championing Sustainability Award
African Wildlife Foundation, Kenya.
Most Innovative Business Tourism Destination Award
City of Cape Town, South Africa.
Outstanding Accommodation Facility/Group Award
Four Seasons Resort in Seychelles.
Outstanding Tourism Transportation Award
Destination – Africa Lifetime Award
Philda Nani Kereng, the Minister of Environment and Tourism in Botswana.
Special Recognition Award
Emeritus Prof Ernie Heath, South Africa.
Minister’s Special Award
Nani Kereng presented the ‘Minister’s Special Award’ to Kinson Kgaga from the Botswana Guides Association and Mmankudu Glickman from Bahurutse Cultural Village.
Congratulations to all the winners!