It's official - the African Tourism Board (ATB) has been launched at the World Travel Market Africa (WTM) in Cape Town on Thursday.
Initially founded in 2018 at WTM London, the board is expected to be a "new and collaborative voice to African tourism". While it will be a partnership with private and public sector members, the board does not intend to compete with existing national tourism bodies.
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It was created by the International Coalition of Tourism Partners (ICTP), itself based in Seychelles, Brussels, Bali, and Hawaii, the ATB will seek to enhance and promote the sustainable growth, value, and quality of travel on the African continent.
They have already established offices in the US, India and Israel - which is considered an underserved market despite their high traveller numbers.
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Alain St Ange from Seychelles was announced as the president of the board and Doris Woerfel was appointed as the CEO. St Ange is a former tourism minister to the top island destination, and Woefel is from Southern Cross Experience.
St Ange called for support and unity from the various stakeholders across the continent, and reiterated that they will not be telling countries what to do with their tourism. Instead, they will be a platform that will help build the brand of Africa.
"It is so important for Africa that we realise we only get 7% of the travelling public in the world. We have a lot of work to do to position ourselves. We have everything - from safaris to fishing, from bush walks to pyramids - but we are unable to attract people."
"Instead of selling Africa, we only sell one province and we forget that we have to promote Africa as a whole in this world of tourism."
Woerfel's focus will be on growing the Chinese market coming to Africa, and cautions African leaders about their visa regulations and that it's preventing them from getting their slice of the Chinese pie.
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Juergen Steinmetz, chairperson of (ICTP) who helped create the board, reiterated similar sentiments.
"The idea is to bring Africa together as one destination and provide a platform for those in Africa to build a local presence among themselves.
"The initiative has to grow from Africa for Africans."
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