Annual world tourism conference opens in Rwanda

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The 41st Annual World Tourism Conference on Monday kicked off in Rwanda’s capital city Kigali with a focus on promoting tourism as an engine for economic growth and job creation across Africa.

Rwanda hosts the meeting from Aug. 28 to 31, under the auspices of the Africa Travel Association (ATA), a division of the Corporate Council on Africa (CCA) and the Rwanda Development Board (RDB). It is the first time that ATA’s Tourism Conference is hosted in the central African country.

The meeting has brought together African tourism ministers, industry professionals representing tourism boards, destination representatives, travel agents, tour operators, ground operators, airlines, hotels and accommodations, service providers, and travel media to set the stage for how tourism can be utilized as an engine for economic growth across Africa, according to organizers.

Speaking to reporters on the sidelines of the meeting on Monday, Clare Akamanzi, CEO of RDB, said the conference comes at a very crucial moment that Rwanda is promoting wildlife conservation activities, for instance the annual naming of baby mountain gorillas to be held on Sept. 1.

The conference will especially focus on innovative business models, new technologies and strategic partnerships. It will also provide a platform to network and explore new tourism markets and products including the promotion and preservation of Africa’s rich cultural heritage and wildlife.

“Through ATA, CCA aims to promote Africa as a premier tourist destination and support investment and policies that contribute to the industry’s growth,” said CCA president and CEO Florizelle Liser.

The conference will highlight opportunities in the tourism sector and intersecting sectors such as infrastructure, ICT, health, real estate development, and finance, she said.

According to the World Tourism Organization, Africa received a total of 65.3 million international tourists in 2014 and earned 43.6 billion U.S. dollars of revenue, compared to 17.4 million tourists in 1990.

The 40th Annual World Tourism Conference was held in Nairobi, Kenya in 2015.

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