The Joint Meeting of Ministers Responsible for Environment, Natural Resources and Tourism from the Southern African Development Community has approved the SADC Tourism Programme for 2020-2030.

The programme was developed in close collaboration with member states and is intended to serve as a roadmap to guide and co-ordinate the development of a sustainable tourism industry in the region, and to facilitate the removal of barriers to tourism development and growth.

It takes cognisance of the United Nations World Tourism Organisation’s Agenda for Africa, the African Union’s Agenda 2063 as well as several SADC initiatives, and frameworks.

“The vision of the programme for 2030 is that growth in cross-border, multi-destination travel in SADC will exceed average global tourism growth levels,” said Domingos Gove, SADC Director of the Food, Agriculture and Natural Resources Directorate, under which the SADC Tourism Coordination Unit is housed.

Objectives include exceeding global growth levels in tourism receipts to and within the region, broadening the spread of regional arrivals and receipts, and effectively increasing the length of stay and return visits by visitors to and within the region, while ultimately fostering an enabling environment for tourism growth and development through the harmonisation of policies.

The programme’s strategic goals are to:

  1.  Stimulate visitor movement and flows to and within the region
  2. Improve and defend the tourism reputation and image of the region
  3. Develop tourism in Transfrontier Conservation Areas
  4. Improve the quality of visitor experiences and satisfaction levels
  5. Maximise tourism partnerships and collaboration.

Importantly, it takes cognisance of the need for engagement across multiple sectors due to the cross-cutting nature of the tourism industry. The importance of strategically engaging private-sector stakeholders was also acknowledged in development of the tourism programme.

These, among other key considerations, will set the stage for collaborative regional engagement that will work toward addressing bottlenecks to regional tourism growth and development with a view to establishment of an enabling environment for the SADC tourism industry to thrive.