Open Africa’s skies to facilitate travel – tourism ministers

Open Africa’s skies to facilitate travel – tourism ministers

HARARE, June 19 (The Source) – Africa needs to open up its airspace to improve connectivity which is seen as crucial to facilitating ease of movement for tourists across the continent which is desperate for income, South Africa’s tourism minister Derek Hanekom has said.

The United Nations World Tourism (UNWTO) reports that global tourism has been on the rise, putting 2014 travellers at 1,138 billion. Africa’s share of the tourism receipts and arrivals is a mere five percent.

Hanekom who was speaking at a tourism conference in Harare on Thursday said improved air networks would encourage more visitors to travel across Africa, giving the continent a bigger share of the global market.

“Our own aviation policies are to blame for the small share which we account for. We have countries protecting their own national carriers not wanting to open up to competition,” Hanekom said.

“We need to rethink that protectionist approach it does not do us any good, he said.”

In 1998 African nations agreed in Yamoussoukro, Ivory Coast, to create one vast, free civilian airspace but the agreement is yet to be implemented.

Zimbabwe’s tourism minister Walter Mzembi who spoke at the same event said the Yamoussoukro Declaration ought to be put into practice if Africa is to attain double digit growth in tourism.

“We should open up Africa to each other such that experiences of flying to France first before you reach West Africa will be a thing of the past and that can only happen If we understand the link between open airports and regional alliances,” he said.