The three day summit commenced on 1st, November, 2023 at Kigali Convention Centre attracting dignitaries from over 45 countries and more than 2000 participants coming together to discuss challenges and opportunities within the tourism and travel sector.
Running under the theme “ Building Bridges to a Sustainable Future”, the 23rd annual Global summit aims to grow the contribution of tourism to Africa’s GDP to 5.1%.
Speaking at the opening ceremony, Julia Simpson the CEO and President WTTC noted that tourism on the African continent had doubled over the past two decades on the Global average, a thing that is promising.
“84 million international visitors added 196 billion dollars to Africa’s bottom line which is 7% of the continent’s economy”, she remarked.
Arnold Donald, chair of WTTC also echoed Julia’s remarks stating that tourism within Africa rose to a much stronger rate than the Global average since 2000 making Africa the ’heart of travel and tourism’.
“Between 2000 and 2019 tourism investment increased by nearly 350%.at a broadly consistent rate across the continent, today here in Rwanda we send a sounding message to the world, the heart of travel and tourism be strongly here in Africa,” he remarked.
In Rwanda, tourism is the single major source of foreign earnings having attracted US$173 million in 2022, with a target of rising to US$194 million by the end of 2023. Additionally, the sector intends to grow the number of employment opportunities to 350,000 by the end of 2023.
The country has played a pivotal role in the conservation of mountain gorillas that almost went extinct before 2000 having established an annual gorilla naming ceremony dubbed ‘Kwita Izina’ that attracts tourists from all walks of the world investing immensely in the sector.
Furthermore, the country attracts visitors through hosting continental and Global events like; Women Deliver Conference, Basketball Africa League (BAL), Trace musical Awards, among others.
Addressing the delegates during the summit, Francis Gatare the CEO of Rwanda Development Board (RDB) commended the organisers of WTTC for choosing Rwanda as the host of the summit because its not only a milestone to the country, but the continent as a whole for its dedication towards sustainable tourism.
To the African governments, Samia Suluhu Hassan, the president of Tanzania posed three ‘serious questions’ aimed at promoting, conserving and preserving Africa’s tourism attractions emphasising that ‘Africa and Tourism are inseparable’.
With the statement: ‘Africa is no longer the future but now’, Suluhu acknowledged the role of the private sector in the promotion of tourism in Africa referencing on the funding done by the private sector in Tanzania, in the production of the movie titled ‘the royal tour’ that has attracted a vast of tourists to Tanzania.
She thus called upon governments to collaborate with the private sector and Non-Government Institutions to make travel and tourism more vibrant in African economies.
The WTTC Global summit was founded to promote sustainable growth for the Travel and Tourism sector through working with governments and international institutions to create jobs, drive exports and generate prosperity.
According to Julia Simpson; the summit in collaboration with Saudi Arabia monitors global, environmental and social footprints of 195 countries to pinpoint required changes and shifts of policy.
For the past 33 years, the summit has “stood as a beacon for the sector for 33 years advocating for the positive impact tourism and travel has on the world,” said Arnold Donald- chair of WTTC.