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African youth urged to embrace innovation and harness potential to contribute to development programmes – Shifeta

African youth urged to embrace innovation and harness potential to contribute to development programmes – Shifeta

The Minister of Environment, Forestry, and Tourism, Hon. Pohamba Shifeta has urged African youth to embrace innovation, digital disruptive change, and form partnerships while harnessing their potential to succeed and change the African society in the tourism sector.

He made the remarks at the official opening of this year’s 5th Pan-African Youth in Tourism Innovation Challenge and Summit, which runs from 30 May to 2 June in Swakopmund, Erongo region, and is hosted in collaboration with the Africa Tourism Partners South Africa and the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO).

Shifeta sought to inspire and support the young leaders into action, reminding them that they are the true and reflective ambassadors of change in African society and the tourism economies.

“Being creative and innovative yields a valuable asset and businesses which is required to enhance economic and human capital development that will contribute to the Gross Domestic Product in your respective countries,” he said, further urging the African youth and all industry players to collaborate and form partnerships to place the “Africa Brands/Destinations” at the center stage of the global dialogue.

“The African youth needs to participate and contribute to innovative development programmes that are compatible with sustainable development goals, the Africa Union Development Agenda 2063, and Regional Tourism Programmes and Protocols,” the minister said at the summit.

The tourism Minister also shared that the 4th Edition of this summit, held last year in Windhoek, created greater awareness of the importance of the tourism economy and its multiplier effects on other industries, and how the sector can positively and directly impact livelihoods.

He said it provided a greater insight to high school and university graduates participating in different career paths in the tourism sector.

“It exposed the Namibian youth to employment opportunities within the sector through networking, market access, and insights into Africa Tourism Supply Chain, as well as new and evolving digital solutions and innovative ways of doing business.”

Shifeta further emphasized the importance of collaboration between all related industries, noting the sole objective to connect, engage, learn, innovate, and grow themselves, their businesses, and the entire travel & tourism economy.

Additionally, he noted that tourism is identified in Vision 2030 as a pillar of economic growth that contributes directly to poverty alleviation and economic development in rural communities.

The summit is open to all interested youth, start-ups, and professionals in the tourism, travel, hospitality, aviation, academia, and technology sectors.

It serves as a voice for the youth and emerging enterprises in tourism, travel, hospitality, aviation, and all related industries, with its sole objective to connect, engage, learn, innovate, and grow themselves, their businesses, and the entire travel & tourism economy of the African countries. The summit is a pan-African youth initiative that was introduced by the dynamic youth of Africa in 2019, in Durban, South Africa.

The goal is to provide a transformative platform for African youth, start-ups, entrepreneurs, students, and small enterprises for income generation and career development. Furthermore, the Summit aims to advance future opportunities, including harmonizing and influencing government policies, introducing strategies, and adopting new technologies that support the development and growth of SMMEs, tourism businesses, financing, and creating market access for youth entrepreneurship.

Erongo Governor, Neville Andre said the government has made major strides in ensuring good conservation practices which has led Namibia to be regarded as one of the leading countries in biodiversity and conservation management.

“The environment and tourism sector are therefore positioned to deliver on these high-level goals. The sector is viewed as a low-hanging fruit to spur development through job creation by increasing tourism investment and arrivals,” Andre stated, adding that the objectives of this tourism innovation hub are to support the digital transformation in the tourism sector and build pragmatic tourism entrepreneurship programmes that empower the youth.

According to the UNWTO, the international tourism industry continues to show strong signs of recovery, with international arrivals almost tripling from January 2022 to July 2022, which is a 172% growth compared to the same period in 2021.

The Erongo Governor pointed out that this implies that the global tourism industry has recovered to about 60% of pre-pandemic levels, according to UNWTO’s latest World Tourism Barometer.

Moreover, according to the Hospitality Association of Namibia report for October 2022, a national occupancy rate of 54.6% was recorded during October 2022 compared to 33.8% in October 2021.


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