The Seychelles Principal Secretary for Tourism, Mrs Sherin Francis and the Director for International Cooperation, Ms Diane Charlot, attended the 66th United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) Commission for Africa Meeting held in Mauritius from 26th to 28th July 2023. The Meeting focused on key areas of the tourism sector, such as employment, investments and the challenges it faces.
Present at the event was the Secretary General of the UNWTO, Zurab Pololikashvili, who commended the remarkable recovery achieved by all regions, attaining 80% of the pre-pandemic levels, with Africa reaching 88%, attesting to the continent’s resilience amid various challenges. Among the top priorities set for the tourism sector, education, jobs, and empowerment remained at the forefront of the UNWTO’s agenda.
During her intervention, Seychelles’ Principal Secretary for Tourism, Mrs Francis, congratulated the UNWTO for the tremendous work accomplished in the past year. She emphasised the importance of education and investment in human capital, asserting that a well-trained workforce is essential for the growth of the tourism industry.
PS Francis shared that Seychelles took the proactive step of introducing tourism clubs in all schools, a measure embraced by various tourism businesses, instilling the principles of service delivery from a young age. Additionally, the Seychelles Tourism Ministry recognises exemplary service delivery within the tourism sector through an annual award ceremony.
Furthermore, Mrs Francis offered a word of caution to member states regarding growing tourism numbers, stating that “while growing the number of visitors is important, there is also a need to reflect on the type of tourism we would like to develop in our respective country. We cannot be like other countries where we grow and then must go back to repair the damage done.”
During the meeting, elections for the UNWTO Executive Council and UNWTO Committees for the period of 2023-2027 were held. The following countries were elected to represent the region on the Executive Council: the Democratic Republic of Congo, Ghana, Namibia, Nigeria, Rwanda and Tanzania were elected to represent Africa on Executive Council. Seychelles was elected to serve on the UNWTO Committee for statistics for the period of 2023-2027 as well as on the CAF sustainable tourism Working group.
The meeting was followed by a conference on “Rethinking Tourism for Africa” featuring two main sessions – one focused on ‘Addressing Global Challenges’ and the other on ‘Promoting Investment and Partnerships’ in tourism for economic development. The 66th Commission for Africa meeting concluded with the presentation of the Mauritian Declaration: A New Path for Africa Tourism through Global Partnerships and Investment.
The 66th UNWTO Commission for Africa meeting brought together delegations from 33 countries, including 22 Ministers of Tourism. The 67th Commission for Africa is scheduled to take place in Algeria next year.