Saturday, 30 June 2012 03:50
The Africa Travel Association, the worldâ€™s leading travel industry trade association promoting tourism to Africa, held its 37th Annual Congress in Victoria Falls , Zimbabwe , May 18 â€“ 22, 2012. More than 500 delegates from government, business and the non-profit sectors gathered at ATAâ€™s hallmark event in Africa .
The theme, â€śAfrica Tourism: Partnering for the Future,â€ť focused on how tourism, with growth rates in emerging markets outperforming more established destinations, is one of the most promising industries on the African continent for development. South African Airways served as Presenting Sponsor and Official Congress Carrier and Arik Air served as Official Media Carrier.real viagra
â€śOur 37th Congress has been a real success with significant outcomes that will have a positive impact on the tourism industry in Zimbabwe and across Africa ,â€ť said Edward Bergman , ATA Executive Director. â€śNow more than ever, the tourism industry has a greater ability to affect lives and contribute to positive growth and development and ATA is pleased to be at the heart of this process.â€ť
Delegates included five tourism ministers from Central African Republic, Ghana, Namibia, Uganda and Zimbabwe, along with government representatives from Angola, Egypt, Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzania, Togo and Zambia and hundreds of participants from around the world.
The Congress was hosted by the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority (ZTA) under the auspices of Honorable Minister of Tourism and Hospitality Industry, Walter Mzembi. ATA government members elected Minister Mzembi, as the new president of the association at the ATA board meeting on the final day of the congress.
On the first day of the congress, Ambassador of the USA to Zimbabwe, Charles A. Ray, conveyed that â€ś Zimbabwe is open for business.â€ť He said that US business representatives were coming to Zimbabwe because the economy was growing and trade and investment links between the two countries were improving.
Speaking about the importance of building better cooperation and understanding between the USA and Zimbabwe, the Ambassador said, â€śZimbabwe, even with its political uncertainty, represents a potentially huge market for Americansâ€¦ it has the highest literacy rate in sub-Saharan Africa, and a population that when opportunities are available theyâ€™re very hard working and very organized and get things done.â€ť
In an interview with one of the congress media delegates, Ambassador Ray said, â€śYou have to look at whatâ€™s going on on the ground in order to understand the reality. There is a gap between the perceived risk here and the real risk. The real risk, in most cases, is far less than the perceived risk caused by the image the country has.â€ť
Building on these themes, a special congress session, featuring Ambassador Ray and U.S. Ambassador to Zambia, Mark C. Storella, was held on the second to last day of the congress. The two Ambassadors spoke about prospects for U.S. trade and investment in the tourism sector in the neighboring countries, along with the role the US embassies play in improving relations and facilitating exchanges.
The Congress kicked off with ATA's third annual Young Professionals Program Forum at the Elephant Hills Hotel. Students, young professionals and industry leaders from the tourism and hospitality sector came together to discuss the most pressing issues for young professionals in the industry. Topics included harnessing social media to promote African tourism, rural tourism development, and the ethics of sustainability and ecological integrity.
Ministers from Central African Republic, Ghana , Namibia, Togo and Zimbabwe participated in the Tourism Ministersâ€™ Roundtable. Everyone agreed that the benefits of tourism could be strengthened if African governments collaborated more closely with each other and the private sector over a number of issues, including connectivity, visas, branding and packaging products. The importance of integrating local community into tourism programs was also stressed.
Inspired by the Japanese television cooking show, Iron Chef, ATA held the first â€śATA Culinary Experience.â€ť Delegates enjoyed a luncheon prepared by culinary students from the Bulawayo School of Hospitality and Tourism Studies and chefs from Victoria Falls hotels. Visiting chefs from the USA, Chef Pierre Thiam, Senegalese cookbook author, real viagra and Eric Simeon, E&E Grill House Executive Chef, judged the competition, along with Ambassador Ray; Dr. Nancy Scanlon of Florida International University; Chef Christopher Gonzo, Chi ef Executive of the Zimbabwean Culinary Association; and Chef Johnson, Chief Technical Coordinator of ZTA.
Sessions on social media strategies with RS Social and the role of film in marketing destinations with Thinking Forward Media provided participants with practical tools for more effective media relations and marketing. An Expedia representative discussed the importance of bringing Africa 's products to market through social media, mobile technology, and the Internet. A Matador Network representative discussed how to leverage content from dozens of partners to create a unified strategy for promoting your destination on the Web. Group IST also presented on the pros and cons of volun-tourism.
Delegates explored several new tourism topics at the congress, including â€śWomenâ€™s Engagement in Africa â€™s Tourism Industry,â€ť which brought together representatives from Affluent Hospitality Group, Amalinda Collection, United Nations World Tourism Organization, and ZTA to discuss the challenges and opportunities facing women in the tourism industry today.
Leading travel trade and mainstream media representatives explored the relationships between tourism and the media at one of the sessions. Participants spoke about how to develop more effective media relations and how to move travel news to the front pages. The participants spoke about how the negative and the positive play a role in creating perceptions of Africa and stressed the potential role of the media in communicating tourismâ€™s contribution to development and achieving political stability.
At Zimbabwe Culture Night, ATA announced the recipients of ATAâ€™s annual awards. The recipients of the Outstanding Service to the Association awards were Hon. Mzembi (MP), Minister of Tourism and Hospitality Industry of Zimbabwe; Karikoga Kaseke; Chief Executive of the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority (ZTA); Tesa Chi kaponya, Executive Director of Destination Marketing at ZTA; and Evelyn Chi dyausiku, US Representative of ZTA. Robert Brunner, Vice President of the Americas for Arik Air International Ltd received the Outstanding Leadership Award; and Dr. Yohannes Zeleke, President of the ATA Mid-Atlantic Chapter, received the ATA Founderâ€™s Award. Chef Pierre Thiam and Chef Eric Simeon received the Development of Responsible Tourism in Africa awards and ATA outgoing President, Hon. Fatou Mas Jobe-Njie, Minister of Tourism and Culture of The Gambia, received the Promotion of Responsible Tourism to Africa Award. Finally, Andrea Papitto, Vice President of Thinking Forward Media, received the Young Professionals Leadership award.
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