Kagame: Single African Air Transport Market Needed for Tourism Growth

Rich with tourism attractions, Africa remains poorly connected via air transport, making it difficult to market itself as a tourist destination within its boundaries and internationally.

Lack of viable transport polices among African states, high cost of air travel to Africa and within the continent, remains a barrier to the growth of the tourism sector.

Implementation of the Single African Air Transport Market (SAATM) is therefore an important priority to connect Africa by air, Rwanda’s President Kagame said.

While the travel and tourism industry has recovered strongly globally, Kagame pointed out that the high cost of air travel to Africa and within Africa remains a barrier and the implementation of SAATM is an important priority.

SAATM is the unified air transport market aiming to boost the aviation industry on the continent by allowing free movement of airlines from one country to another.

President Paul Kagame said that implementation of the Single African Air SAATM will bring about positive development in tourism through air connection between each African state and other continents.

Kagame said during the just-ended World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) 2023 in Kigali that higher costs of air should be controlled through joint efforts by African governments as to attract more tourists within the continent and outside its boundaries.

“We should not lose sight of our own continental market. Africans are the future of global tourism as our middle class continues to grow at a fast pace in the decades to come. We must work closely together with partners, like the WTTC, to continue developing Africa into a premium destination for global travel”, Kagame told the delegates.

Latest report on tourism in Africa shows that travel and tourism could increase Africa’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) to $50 billion by 2033 and create six million more jobs by employing the right approach and galvanized efforts through viable investments.

Kagame said that Rwanda had identified tourism as a key driver of economic growth earlier on, and the results have not been disappointing.

“Every year, we welcome so many visitors who come to Rwanda to enjoy the unique natural beauty, attend sporting events, or participate in gatherings like this. This is a privilege and a trust that we don’t take for granted,” he said.

He said that conservation efforts were in place to build a more sustainable future and which have recognized Nyungwe National Park as a world heritage site.

Additionally, Rwanda had invested in the infrastructure and skills that would to host major sports events, including the Basketball Africa League.

He signaled that Rwanda had removed visa restrictions for citizens of every African country as well as many other countries, hence, inviting the delegates to visit different parts of Rwanda.

Co-organized by the Rwanda Development Board (RDB), the WTTC 2023 was the most influential annual summit on the travel and tourism calendar which brought together thousands of travel and tourism industry leaders, experts and key government representatives.

The WTTC had brought together tourism leaders and policy makers to continue aligning their efforts to support the growth of the tourism sector and then move towards a safer, more resilient, inclusive and sustainable future.

Julia Simpson, President and CEO of WTTC, commended the efforts of the Rwandan government in building the tourism sector which is the main contributor of the economy and employs a significant number of people.

These efforts have enabled Rwanda ranking among the top world’s 20 countries with ease of doing business on the continent and across.
Simpson added that the summit was an opportunity that would lead debates with governments and point out the need for policy shifts to develop a sustainable industry.

Chief Executive Officer of Rwanda Development Board Mr. Francis Gatare said that the WTTC global summit in Rwanda and Africa marked an incredible milestone for the continent’s tourism growth.

“It is also an opportunity for the world to see our country and experience the tremendous transformation that Rwanda has gone through and Africa’s dedication to sustainable tourism”, Gatare said.

SOURCE: Kagame: Single African Air Transport Market Needed for Tourism Growth