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United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) secretary general Zurab Pololikashvili yesterday visited President Hage Geingob to brief him on the two-day UNWTO regional conference on brand Africa.

The gathering hosted by Namibia started in the capital yesterday and ends tomorrow. The conference, themed ‘Strengthening Brand Africa for the Swift Recovery of the Tourism Sector’, could only attract nine tourism ministers, 15 experts and stakeholders due to the Covid-19 pandemic, Pololikashvili told Geingob.

“We wanted to make the conference bigger but due to the Covid-19 pandemic that is not only affecting Namibians but all across the universe, we couldn’t,” he told Geingob, who for the first time yesterday appeared in public after he and his wife Monica tested positive for Covid-19 towards the end of May. He said the conference, the first of its kind, is historical for Africa and it will rebrand Africa as a sought after tourist destination.

Pololikashvili further thanked Geingob for his support, which saw him being re-elected as the secretary general of the UNWTO for a four-year tenure late last year.

He also handed Geingob a presidential award in recognition of his strong commitment to fostering tourism as a key driver of sustainable and inclusive development.

On his part, Geingob thanked Pololikashvili for the courtesy call, adding that he will be attending the conference today.

Tourism for inclusive growth identifies branding as a major area to help create a positive image of Africa as a tourism destination that supports the efforts of individual countries and companies. It also serves to narrate several positive stories about Africa and make tourism a driver of development.

Activities in Namibia’s tourism sector fell steeply in 2020, largely affected by the Covid-19-induced travel restrictions and social distancing considerations.

The sector is estimated to have contracted by 33.1% in 2020, after registering a marginal positive growth rate of 2.8% in 2019, according to Bank of Namibia estimates.

The contraction was manifested in sharp declines in the number of bed and room nights sold by the hospitality industry, as well as in regional and international passenger arrivals at Namibian airports.

Read the original article on New Era.