A three-day regional conference aimed at finding solutions for improving Africa's tourism industry opened in Lusaka on Monday with the World Tourism Organization (WTO) expressing worry on the insignificant number of tourists the continent receives.
"Africa's receives about three percent of international tourists. That is not good enough if we consider the huge tourism potential of this continent," Dawid de Villiers, Deputy Secretary General of WTO, said at the start of the conference whose theme is "Building Competitive Quality-Oriented Systems for African Tourism."
He said many people were traveling and looking for good tourist attractions than ever before, a situation that gives the African continent more challenges in attracting enough tourists.
According to Villiers, the future of the industry looks incredibly positive with the number of tourist arrivals set to double in the next 15 years.
WTO figures show that about 25 million people traveled internationally in 1950. The number increased to over 700 million last year, a 30-fold increase.
"This endorses the view that tourism will continue to grow as boundaries between countries go down and disposable income go up," he said.
However, he said the continent needs to deal with obstacles that have been impending the development of the industry over the years.
Amongst the obstacles includes the lack of capacity, lack of appropriate legislation and conducive environments for the sector.
African governments, he said, should provide sound legislative framework and environment that would provide the optimum development of the industry.
Zambian Minister of Tourism, Environment and Natural Resources Kabinga Pande called for effective regional cooperation in the development of the industry.
"The African continent is competing with the rest of the world for tourists who are increasingly sophisticated and discerning," he said.
(Xinhua News Agency September 6, 2005)