1. Ghana begins preparations for inaugural UNWTO regional congress on women.

Ghana has begun earnest preparations to host the maiden World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) Regional congress on women empowerment in the Tourism, Arts and Culture sectors in Accra. The congress received endorsement from the recently concluded 23rd General Assembly held in Saint Petersburg, Russia when the Secretary General presented it as part of the activities to be held in Africa. The congress aims to analyse the current challenges and opportunities for women’s empowerment in the tourism sector, create synergies among African countries and key stakeholders for greater cooperation in the promotion of women’s empowerment in the tourism sector.

The event is scheduled to come off from 25-26 November

As part of the women’s empowerment initiative in Africa, UNWTO will launch a competition in collaboration with Wakalua and IE Business School for African women followed by a Masterclass on site regarding women’s empowerment and tourism education in Africa.

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2. World Tourism Organization General Assembly

St Petersburg, Russian Federation, 12 September 2019 – Tourism Ministers from around the world have gathered at the 23d Session of the General Assembly of the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) in St Petersburg. The future of tourism jobs in a changing world, and the way tourism can help provide education for all, has featured prominently among ministerial debates.

UNWTO celebrates its Year of Jobs and Education, the High-Level Debate saw leaders and representatives from more than 100 countries discuss the biggest challenges facing the tourism sector as it works to fulfill its potential as one of the world’s main sources of employment.

Supporting 1 in 10 jobs worldwide and a leading employer of women, youth and people living in rural or marginalized communities, tourism has been recognized as a key pillar of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Agenda. However, global demographic shifts, new technology and urbanization are all having a significant impact on both work and education in the tourism sector, and the opportunities and challenges posed by all three of these mega-trends were the subject of lively discussion in St Petersburg.

During the debate, which was moderated by UNWTO’s media partner CNN International, Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashvili said: “We represent one of the major drivers of global development, a leading source of employment and ongoing training, transforming the lives of millions around the world. Tourism must be ready to meet the challenges of tomorrow and this ministerial debate demonstrates that we recognize that tourism jobs need new and different skills over the coming years.”

The debate formed part of the 23rd Session of the General Assembly of the United Nations. Held every two years, the General Assembly brings together the world leaders, tourism ministers and key representatives from the public and private sectors and is the most important body of UNWTO, the United Nations specialized agency for responsible, sustainable and inclusive tourism.

3. Major Decisions and highlights from 62nd UNWTO CAF Meeting

The 62nd UNWTO Regional Commission for Africa (CAF) held within the context of the 23rd session of the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) General Assembly in Saint Petersburg, Russian Federation, from 9 to 13 September 2019,attracted a high number of key tourism stakeholders from both the public and private sector from the region and globally. A total of around 35 member states including 22 Ministers of Tourism, Ambassadors, Charge d affairs a. i and other high ranking contributors in the tourism sector joined for this very important gathering.

The UNWTO Secretary-General, Mr. Zurab Pololikashvili noted that Africa still faces important challenges in data coverage and collection, and thus he encourages countries to put more focus in this area. “Our core priority is to create more jobs, educate the youth and make tourism more futuristic and smarter” he added. “Tourism growth should be anchored on innovation, entrepreneurship and education. The urgency of finding innovative approaches to diversifying tourism systems in the region as a channel of job creation and poverty alleviation is a reality”. The ten point Agenda for Africa– Tourism for inclusive growth is the catalyst blueprint to achieve this reality through development and stimulation of joint activities and new partnerships. The Secretary-General in his remarks highlighted that digitalization, new business models, more affordable travel and societal changes are expected to continue shaping the sector, and thus both destination and companies need to adapt if they want to remain competitive.

The agenda of the 62nd CAF meeting also included nominations and elections to statutory organs of the organisation and their subsidiary bodies as well as events.. These elections and nominations are critical roles that member states are entrusted with to represent the region when their respective meetings are called.

A positive drive has been seen whereby member states are keenly seeking these roles and also ensuring that representation to the statutory organs and the subsidiary bodies reflect a fair distribution and representation of all regions within Africa. Two major decisions included members agreeing to the candidature of Cote D´Ivoire to be the next host of the World Tourism Day activities in 2021 and Seychelles to host the 63rd CAF meeting in 2020. Another important decision taken at the 23rd General Assembly was for the hosting of the 24th General Assembly which will take place in Africa in the beautiful city of Marrakech, Morocco in 2021.

If you have an innovative tool or idea that can boost the tourism industry in Africa and create jobs, now is the time to showcase your product! The future is bright for the African continent.