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African, Spanish, and Portuguese companies analyzed a series of new business and cooperation opportunities today at INVESTOUR, within the framework of FITUR

African, Spanish, and Portuguese companies analyzed a series of new business and cooperation opportunities today at INVESTOUR, within the framework of FITUR (Forimmediaterelease.net) African, Spanish, and Portuguese companies analyzed a series of new business and cooperation opportunities today at INVESTOUR, FITUR.

According to speakers at the INVESTOUR event, African countries can compete with other tourist regions throughout the world if they effectively plan how to integrate tourism into their economies.

In 2013, more than 56 million tourists travelled to Africa, which represents an increase of 5% Revenue from tourism came to around 40,000 million dollars.

In the afternoon session, the participants will embark on a series of Business to Business (B2B) meetings between African companies and institutions and Spanish and Portuguese companies, based on a closed schedule of pre-arranged appointments.

Today in Madrid, a number of African, Spanish and Portuguese companies addressed a series of new business and cooperation opportunities, within the framework of the fifth staging of the Tourism Business and Investment Forum for Africa, INVESTOUR. This event, organized within the framework of FITUR, the International Tourism Trade Fair, is an annual forum at which African and Spanish companies (accompanied by Portuguese companies this year) seek to strengthen their collaborative ties.

This Forum is an initiative promoted by the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), FITUR and Casa Africa. It seeks to promote sustainable tourism in Africa by offering a platform that facilitates dialogue regarding new business and collaboration opportunities between representatives of African tourism and potential Spanish and Portuguese investors/partners.

This event tackled the question of tourism in Africa and its link with Spain and Portugal, based on the participation of a number of leading representatives from the private and public tourist sectors. The afternoon session will consist of a series of Business to Business (B2B) meetings between African companies and institutions and Spanish and Portuguese companies, based on a closed schedule of pre-arranged appointments. Furthermore, throughout the course of the event, an award was presented to Ousmane Ndiaye, the former Director of the UNWTO Regional Program for Africa, in recognition of the important work he has carried out in favor of African tourism.

During her address, Elsia Grandcourt, the current Regional Director of the UNWTO Program for Africa, referred to INVESTOUR as an initiative that is based on a “long-term strategic partnership with the UNWTO, together with Casa Africa, FITUR and IFEMA, one that seeks to develop tourism in Africa and one that enables future and potential Spanish investors to meet and establish new alliances and collaborative opportunities." Furthermore, she was especially pleased this year that the Forum had opened its doors to Portuguese companies. She declared that tourism must seek to “eliminate poverty and promote sustainable development."

For his part, Santiago Martinez-Caro, the Head of Casa Africa, stated that INVESTOUR generates “real business opportunities for Spanish and African companies." He went on to explain that the aim of Casa Africa was to “present the opportunities that the Continent offers Spanish professionals and companies" in order to boost development throughout the Region. He also supported the “internationalization of companies that are already operating there or that wish to do so."

Martinez-Caro pointed out that 10 of the 20 economies with the highest growth potential in the world up until 2017 are located, precisely, in Africa. And he stated that “all the indicators reflect a convergence between developing countries and the Western nations," given that out of the fifteen countries that have grown most strongly in recent years, six are African, while all of the nations on the Continent “will enjoy rates of growth that are significantly higher than those of the OECD countries over the next decade." Furthermore, GDP in Africa will continue to grow by a rate of up to 5.3% in 2014 and by 5.5% in 2015.

In his opinion, the African nations “will be able to compete with other tourist regions throughout the world if they effectively plan how to integrate tourism into their economies." Furthermore, “African countries should capitalize on the extensive tourism experience of Spain and the gateway it provides to the European markets." This should help to promote the economy and boost the number of jobs, both here and in Africa.

A competitive industry

Luis Eduardo Cortés, the Chairman of the IFEMA Executive Committee, recalled that tourism is an extremely important industry throughout the world, one that “has come a long way but still has a long way to go." He mentioned the fact that, over the last year, Spain had achieved some spectacular tourism results, based on a figure of more than 60 million visitors in 2013, which represents “good news," together with the growth that has been witnessed within the field of tourism throughout the world.

In addition, he pointed out that tourism is a highly competitive industry and that competition is always good. “In this case, in a double sense, given that if we were to achieve a vibrant tourist industry throughout the entire world, and tourism were to prosper in every country, we would all profit as a result."

Mr. Cortes highlighted the fact that, over the five years in which INVESTOUR has been staged, this initiative has presented some 550 projects from 45 countries, which shows that the Forum “is working well" and that the idea is “good and useful." “Africa," he declared, “has a strong present, but also a marvelous future, and tourism can help us tread the path to success." Among the key questions for debate at the Forum, the participants analyzed the issue of hotel infrastructures, which must focus on the matter of their quality-price ratio. The participants also tackled questions such as improving air transport links and visa procedures in order to facilitate access to Africa`s different countries.

Taleb Rifai, the Secretary General of the UNWTO, explained that INVESTOUR is working to open up destinations throughout Africa to Spanish investors, because “we believe in the great potential of African tourism and we have considerable confidence in what we do." According to Mr. Rifai, more than 56 million tourists travelled to Africa in 2013, which represents an increase of 5%. Furthermore, revenue from tourism came to around 40,000 million dollars.

Nevertheless, although tourism has witnessed considerable growth in recent years, he warned that obstacles to development still exist, including the lack of air connections, problems regarding the issuing of visas and lack of financing for infrastructures, encompassing both hotels and roads and railways.

Two roundtables were also staged within the framework of the event. One focused on air connections and the issuing of visas, both key factors regarding the development of tourism in Africa; and the second focused on investment in African hotel infrastructures.

MEDIA CONTACT: DIRECCION DE COMUNICACION Y PRENSA, Pilar Serrano de Paz, Tel: (34) 91 722 5823, Fax: (34) 91 722 57093, pilars@ifema.es

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