First Lady Margaret Kenyatta has today said that African governments are taking proactive measures aimed at ensuring the travel and tourism sector contributes more to the continent’s economy.
She said African governments have resolved to collectively work together as a team to sustainably utilize and grow the sector for wealth and job creation.
“This sector has the potential to accelerate Africa’s progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals, specifically Goal 8, on the promotion of decent work and economic growth and, Goal 9 that targets industry, innovation and infrastructure,” the First Lady said.
First Lady Margaret Kenyatta spoke today when she delivered the keynote address at the ongoing World Travel and Tourism Council summit in Seville, Spain.
The First Lady said in its quest to develop the sector, Kenya has taken several measures including torching of ivory and rhino horns to deter poaching of wildlife.
She said through these radical measures the country has seen a decline in poaching noting that the enhanced wildlife law enforcement and aggressive anti-poaching interventions are showing results.
“Since 1989 to date, Kenya has burned a total of 137 tonnes of ivory and 1.5 tonnes of rhino horns,” the First Lady said.
First Lady Margaret Kenyatta said the global summit provides a platform to strengthen the collective resolve to eradicate illegal wildlife trade, to build coalitions and to find solutions to better protect wildlife.
The First Lady observed that the international ban on commercial ivory trade including China’s commitment in 2016 has been a powerful catalyst in curbing the growing demand for wildlife products.
“The African Elephant Coalition, a consortium of 29 African member countries, have joined forces to strongly advocate for the total ban on wildlife trade,” she said.
She said, the travel and tourism sector is linked to virtually all other economic activities and is, therefore, a key determinant of the future of African economies.
“Intricate linkages relate tourism to the entire economic development ecosystem including agriculture, education, infrastructure and information communication technology positioning this sector to be among the leading catalysts for the future of Africa,” First Lady Margaret Kenyatta noted.
The Kenyan First Lady said the future of the travel and tourism sector largely rests on the stakeholders’ willingness to collectively manage the vulnerabilities that impede its progress.
She underscored the importance of the sector to Africa’s economy citing current world tourism statistics which ranks Africa second in the world. In 2018, the sector contributed194.2 billion US dollars representing 8.5 per cent of the continent’s GDP.
“We registered a growth of 5.6 per cent demonstrating faster growth in this sector than in the American, European and Middle East economies thus generating foreign exchange, creating jobs and enhancing tax revenues,” the First Lady observed.
The Kenyan First Lady said the figures convey a positive and encouraging narrative and gives hope to millions of people in Africa adding that the sector has the capacity to transition individual African countries towards more inclusive and resilient economies.
“It improves the quality of life for communities. This positive growth trajectory must, therefore, be safeguarded through expanded investments; stronger policies and sector incentives that promote public-private partnerships,” said the First Lady.
In order for the sector to continue on the positive growth trajectory, First Lady Margaret Kenyatta called for the inclusion and full participation of women and the youth.
“Social inclusion and social protection are two key entry points that are critical if we are to reap the demographic dividends of our youthful population, and benefit from full participation of women who are a powerful, yet untapped force in the growth of our economies,” she said.
“Limited access to information, lack of credit, discrimination and stereotyping are some of the barriers that we, as leaders, must address if we are to truly apply our transformative roles as change-makers in the sector,” the First Lady added.