By Byron Mutingwende
Governments are obligated to use tourism as a vehicle for employment creation to contribute to poverty alleviation in Africa, Vice President Kembo Mohadi has said.
VP Mohadi made the remarks in his keynote address at the Africa Youth in Tourism Conference (19-23 September 2018) in Bulawayo.
“We are obligated to use tourism as a vehicle for employment creation in the process contributing to poverty alleviation in Africa and foster the industry’s commitment to supporting youths in tourism and availing opportunities for youths to be empowered.
“This conference comes at a time when the tourism sector has been praised for its capacity to stimulate economic growth through job creation and investment attraction, while also contributing to the preservation of ecosystems and biodiversity, protection of cultural heritage and promotion of empowerment of local communities. It is worth noting that since the 1990s, tourism has increasingly contributed to Africa’s growth, employment and trade,” VP Mohadi said.
The average total contribution of tourism to gross domestic product (GDP) increased from $69 billion in 1995–1998 to $166 billion in 2011–2014, that is from 6.8 per cent of GDP in Africa to 8.5 per cent of GDP. Furthermore, in Africa, tourism generated more than 21 million jobs on average in 2011–2014 which translates to 7.1 per cent of all jobs in Africa. This means that over the period 2011–2014, the tourism industry was supporting 1 out of every 14 jobs.
Globally, the tourism sector employs a high share of women and youth, with up to 70 per cent of the labour force constituted of this demographic, half of whom are aged 25 or younger. It is therefore one of the sectors that the Government of the Republic of Zimbabwe has identified as playing a key role in providing decent jobs and in obtaining middle income status by the year 2030.
Consequently, tourism policies and frameworks are already in place to support and encourage an increased participation of youth in tourism projects here in Zimbabwe. The Government of Zimbabwe has launched The National Tourism Master Plan, which clearly points out areas of potential development for the youth, while the National Tourism Sector Strategy (NTSS) is aimed at maximising the sector’s efforts at growing the tourism economy.
Tourism is ubiquitous, cross cutting and covering several sectors, a result of which is its impact on several Sustainable Development Goals. For instance, SDGs 8, 12 and 14 highlight the central role of tourism in job creation, local promotion of culture and economic development. It is precisely for this reason that the African Union’s Agenda 2063 is expanding initiatives like The New partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) and has developed the Tourism Action Plan in recognition to its importance in driving Africa’s socio-economic development and structural transformation and catalysing growth in other productive sectors.
VP Mohadi emphasised the need to foster inclusion through the participation of women and youth in the sector’s activities.
“We have designed a programme which echoes the true essence of tourism, and true tourism not only reflects the spirit of friendship, but also peace and development. It is our sincere hope that this conference will provide a continental exposure to the youth for the expression and fulfilment of their talents, aspirations, career opportunities in the tourism industry. The AYIT conference aims to propagate the concept of continental integration, spirit of communal harmony, brotherhood, courage and adventure amongst the youth by exhibiting their cultural prowess in a common platform.”
Senator Priscah Mupfumira, the Minister of Tourism, said Africa needs to nurture the youths to play a critical role in eradicating poverty and participate fully in the development of societies through different platforms.
“Running under the theme “Fostering Tourism Development and Innovation in Africa through Youth Participation” youths are being challenged to exert efforts towards economic development. During your deliberations I urge you to share your experiences, bring up new and innovative ideas. Make use of this important gathering to come up with sustainable projects that will help solve your economic challenges,” Sen Mupfumira said.
Mr Stewart Mutizwa, the Director-General for the Zimbabwe Youth in Tourism said the increase in participating countries at the conference was a clear sign that Africa is embracing its homegrown solutions for its own development.
“It is our strong belief that the collaborative efforts of young people of Africa throughout all the 54 countries, will not only bring unity to the continent but will go a long way to foster peace and development.
“The African heritage and diverse culture, its natural attractions and the future economic development trajectory of Africa, all play a pivotal role in fostering tourism development and innovation in Africa hence youth participation will go a long way in unlocking its value. Youths are at the centre of development in any country, as any Government that is open for growth and development cannot ignore their adaptation to ICTs and innovations. In the case of Zimbabwe, as we take heed of the clarion call by His Excellency Cde E. D Mnangagwa, youths are encouraged to participate effectively and tap on the opportunities in the travel, tourism and hospitality industry,” Mutizwa said.
The 2016 Africa Economic Outlook projected Africa as the second fastest growing economy in the world. Despite an uncertain global economy and a continuous drop in commodity prices, the economic projections of Africa, at least based on official statistics, look very bright.