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African leaders discuss raising profile of tourism on economic agenda

African leaders discuss raising profile of tourism on economic agenda ( NEW YORK, NY - Ten African tourism leaders gathered at New York University on Wednesday to discuss the need to raise the profile of tourism on Africa’s economic agenda. The event was organized by the Africa Travel Association (ATA) and hosted by New York University’s Africa House as world leaders gathered in New York City for the United Nations General Assembly meetings.

Program participants included leaders from Benin, Burundi, the Gambia, Ghana, Liberia, Malawi, Morocco, and Tanzania, along with senior representatives from the African Union and the World Bank’s Africa Region. CNN chief business correspondent and host of Your $$$$$, Ali Velshi, moderated the event.

Newly-elected ATA president and the Gambia Tourism Minister Fatou Mas-Njie Jobe called on African states to work together and with ATA to “make tourism to Africa easier, safer, competitive, and a rewardingly richer experience that affords the traveler, tourist, or investor with immense opportunities to savor the diversity of Africa.” To make this happen, she invited all African states to join ATA and highlighted the need for African states to create joint ventures, partnerships, and collaborative efforts.

Almost 300 people attended the event, including representatives from the travel and tourism industry, the diplomatic community, and NYU faculty, and students, as well as representatives from the non-profit sector. More than twenty media members attended ATA’s signature US event.

“The Presidential Forum brings together a diverse group of people from around the world, who all share a common interest in Africa and tourism,” said Edward Bergman, ATA executive director. “Together, they have the ability to grow the sector and to increase the number of tourism arrivals and investment on the African continent.”

Dr. Elham Ibrahim, African Union commissioner for infrastructure and energy, participated in this year’s program, following the signing of a memorandum of understanding between ATA and the AU in May. Dr. Ibrahim spoke about the need for African nations to work together to achieve a competitive edge in the global tourism market. She also emphasized the multi-sectoral nature of tourism and the need for cross-sectoral cooperation. “[Tourism] players need to be open minded and ready to collaborate with various parties in other fields in order to develop competitive products and cost-effective packages,” said Dr. Ibrahim. “The AU will always be ready to work with ATA and all the stakeholders in order to speed up the development of this important industry.”

African leaders who participated in the roundtable discussion on tourism included:

- HE Gervais Rufyikiri, Second Vice President, Republic of Burundi
- HE Excellency Jean-Marie Ehouzou, Minister for Foreign Affairs, Republic of Benin
- Hon. Minister Sabah Zita Okaikoi, Minister of Tourism, Republic of Ghana
- Hon. Ken Lipenga, Minister for Tourism, Wildlife and Culture, Republic of Malawi
- Hon. Yassir Zenagui, Minister of Tourism&Handicrafts, Kingdom of Morocco
- Hon. Jerolinmek M. Piah, Deputy Minister for Public Affairs, Republic of Liberia
- Dr. Aloyce Nzuki, Managing Director, Tanzania Tourist Board, United Republic of Tanzania.

The World Bank’s vice president of the Africa Region, Obiageli Ezekwesili, delivered the closing remarks, highlighting that Africa is on the edge of a slow economic rebound with tourism as a key sector of growth. She also stressed the importance of a “healthy competitive spirit” among Africa nations in order to keep Africa’s tourism industry competitive.

The Tanzania Tourist Board presented three awards during the program. Kent Redding, president of Adventures in Africa, received the Tour Operator Award Southern/Western Circuit. Rumit Mehta, president of Immersion Journeys, received the Tour Operator Award for Product Development, and Dave Sirulnick and Justin Wilkes of News&Docs, MTV, received the Media Broadcast Award. Tanzania National Parks was an event sponsor.

For a final program, visit:

Africa Travel Association Communications Tel: +1-212-447-1357 Email: Website:

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