SAKABILO KALEMBWE, Lusaka
THE good news about tourism will be shared to the entire world in this generation. Of course this will come in different versions and interpretations, but that’s still worthy.
With Zambia’s tourism sector ending 2017 on a high, the potential of tourism in poverty alleviation and to induce transformative change is real.
At the recently held United World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) Conference on Promoting Suitable Tourism, a Tool for Inclusive Growth and Community Engagement in Africa in Lusaka, communities came out strong on the agenda of the event.
The conference, a flagship event of the African continent, which coincided with celebrations of the International Year of Sustainable Tourism, ran from November 16 to 17 in Lusaka and was coordinated by the UNWTO in conjunction with the Ministry of Tourism and Arts.
With the blessings of President Edgar Lungu, there was no doubt that the event would succeed.
President Lungu re-echoed the potential of tourism to contribute to local development and stated that the Lusaka Declaration is an important milestone in the Agenda 2030 and towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.
He said Zambia recognises tourism as an essential development pillar.
And UNTWO Secretary General Taleb Rifai congratulated Zambia for hosting the conference as a member of the UNWTO Executive Council and chair for 2019.
The SG highlighted that the world today is facing major transformations such as the digital revolution that is connecting people’s minds virtually and globally, the urban revolution that connects lifestyles and our livelihoods and the travel revolution, connecting people physically and culturally.
“Today the world is on major transformative juncture, rapid and fast change is the essence of our time. The three global forces are leading this transformation,” he said.
Dr. Rifai was later destined for the South Luangwa National Park, which he declared as a sustainable national park for tourism.
The conference was preceded by a technical workshop to revise strategies and approaches to develop sustainable tourism initiatives in Africa.
It also tackled issues to do with the potential of sustainable tourism to lead policies that would foster communities’ inclusion into the sector.
The summit commenced with a Ministerial Dialogue on Tourism, Inclusive Growth and Sustainable Development in Africa.
Minister of Tourism and Arts Charles Banda steered the proceedings with the support of his counterpart Ronald Chitotela, minister of Housing and Infrastructure Development, Fatuma Hirsi Mohamed, Principle Secretary of the Ministry of Tourism in Kenya and Abdelgadir Dmein Hassan, the Under-secretary of the Ministry of Tourism, Antiquities and Wildlife of Sudan.
Others present were Dorothy Tembo, deputy executive director at the International Trade Centre and Brownyn Nielsen, Editor in Chief of CNBC Africa, who was moderator of the programme.
More than 200 international and local participants attended the meeting from Angola, Egypt, Jordan, Cape Verde, Equatorial Guinea, Kenya and Mali.
Other delegates came from Democratic Republic of Congo, Malawi, Seychelles, South Africa, Sudan, Switzerland, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
The conference came up with the Lusaka Declaration on Promoting Sustainable Tourism Development, a tool for inclusive growth and community engagement in Africa.
The document places sustainability at the core of tourism development and on national and international development agendas.
The framework of the Agenda 2030 and Sustainable Development Goals were defined together with the African Union Agenda 2063 as the best scenario to foster sustainable tourism for the continent.
According to the UNWTO statistical data, Africa had an increase in international arrivals by eight percent in 2016. With the increasing commitment of African governments, including Zambia, to position tourism as priority in their agenda, the sector reveals strong potential to foster positive change and transformation.