To shore up its performance in global tourism and encourage intra-travel in the region, African tourism ministers have called for a common visa regime. They made the call at the 53rd United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) Commission for Africa (CAF) conference in Calabar, Cross River State. Africa last year recorded about five per cent growth in tourism, a development the Secretary General of the UNWTO, Taleb Rifai lamented, urging a more concerted effort for the region to attain its full potential.
To this end, three working groups were set up to examine factors militating against travels in the region and come up with recommendations within the year. The working groups, including that of visa restrictions, were mandated to see how countries in the continent can relax their visa processes and have a common visa regime. Another group was also charged with addressing the problem of connectivity within the region, as the near absence of seamless air link in the region was identified as one of the major obstacles to intra-travel. The working group is also to come up with measures that would encourage more travels within the region which Africa also expected to increase its share of the global travel arrivals from the 50 million to 134 million arrivals by 2030.
The region’s leaders were also charged to ensure that its tourism products were at par with the best acclaimed destinations in the world if not surpassing them. This, the Commission said, the region must do by ensuring that they develop the exceptional and unique natural and cultural resources of the various countries in the region; evolve improved human capital base, price competitiveness and promote the dynamism of their respective destinations.
Other factors considered include: developing a world-class infrastructure, standard and professional service and product delivery mechanism; involve safety and security measures; improve travel facilitation; develop tourists’ products and seek possible and urgent ways to attract more investments to the industry.