Connectivity and collaboration were the themes of debate between Western African nations at this year’s WTM London and it was announced that the sub region would exhibit on one pavilion at next year’s show.
Though arrivals trends are upward, West Africa lags behind the rest of the continent in terms of tourism growth said Cape Verde’s minister of tourism and transport Jose da Silva Goncalves. He highlighted mobility and awareness between neighbours as a key problem.
“International airlines receive greater privileges than the country next door,” he pointed out. “If you want to go to Kenya for instance, sometimes you need to go via Europe.”
Cape Verde’s open skies agreement has helped it achieve double-digit arrivals growth in the last decade. “We are approaching one million a year but West African tourists are negligible,” the minister said.
The islands aim to help this situation by becoming an air transport hub for the continent.
Among other promising developments are the Single African Airport Transport Market, launched in Addis Ababa in January, an initiative that should lead to increased connectivity and lower fares with the help of an agreement signed by 26 countries so far. The first West African tourism minsters’ conference, to be held in March 2019, will also focus on air transport.
West Africa Integrated Tourism, a forum launched at WTM last year, is meanwhile pushing for a joint marketing and a tourism visa for the region as a whole.
In further good news for regional links, it was announced today that Connect – an event that helps airports and airlines do business, will hold a Middle East, India and Africa show within Arabia Travel Market in Dubai in late April next year. It is planned to become an annual event.
Dubai will also be the host of Expo 2020 and WTM delegates learned today how it aims to facilitate history in the making.
Typewriters, X-Ray machines, television and humble tomato ketchup are all advances that have been unveiled at World Expos over the event’s 167 year history while the Eiffel Tower was built for the Paris show – originally as a temporary structure.
Expo 2020 will be the first ‘Mega Event’ held in Dubai and the first World Expo in 150 years to be held in the Arab world. 25 million visitors are expected to attend over its six month run, 75% of them international.
180 countries will take part, each with a dedicated pavilion showcasing their traditions and breakthrough inventions. The size of the show “will make the Olympics and FIFA World Cup look like new kids on the block,” said Jon Bramley, vice president of communications for the event.
But he pledged “a good idea that is conceived in a small African village or town will be on a level with those from first world cities such as London and New York City.”
Sustainability will be a key theme for the event and there are hopes it will be not only a showcase for cutting edge infrastructure and developments in the field but also a catalyst for good practice in Dubai and the UAE. Proving the point 80% of buildings erected at the site for the Expo will remain to create a permanent area called District 22.