Leaders from across Africa met in St Petersburg on September 10, ahead of the General Assembly of the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) to discuss the key issues facing the continent as it looks to grow its tourism sector.

The 62nd meeting of the UNWTO’s Regional Commission for Africa (CAF) came on the back of the latest Barometer from the United Nations specialised agency for sustainable and responsible tourism.

This most recent data shows that international tourist arrivals to African destinations grew by 3% during the first six months of the year compared with 2018. In particular, North African destinations continue to bounce back from recent difficulties, enjoying a 10% increase in arrivals for the six months.

The key focus of the CAF meeting was the UNWTO’s 2030 Agenda for Africa. This blueprint for the future of African tourism was launched after the UNWTO’s African Member States requested help in drawing up plans for growing and managing tourism and in making the sector a central driver of economic growth and sustainable development.

Addressing the meeting, UNWTO Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashvili said: “Africa has everything to position itself as a global tourism leader; 60% of Africans are under the age of 25. And African cities are real hubs of innovation, with entrepreneurs and innovators finding new ways to manage how we travel. With a concerted approach we can expect international tourist arrivals to Africa to reach 135 million by 2030. Together, we can ensure that this is good news for everyone. More tourists mean more jobs, more schools and greater protection for cultural and natural heritages.”

The African delegates will remain in St Petersburg for the 23rd session of the UNWTO’s General Assembly, the most important event for the global tourism sector. Held every two years, this General Assembly will focus on tourism’s role in the global Sustainable Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals, with a particular emphasis on the sector’s role in education, job creation and tackling climate change.