Africa Tourism Leadership Forum must not just be a talk shop

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Tourism Minister Patricia De Lille has urged the Africa Tourism Leadership Forum currently underway Gaborone, Botswana, to devise “a clear action plan” to deal with the challenges inhibiting intra-Africa travel and tourism.

Addressing hundreds of delegates from the government and the private sector and a myriad of other stakeholders gathered at the Grand Palm Hotel in Gaborone, de Lille says governments also need to come up with legislative frameworks that enable the sector to thrive.

“This forum must come out with a clear action plan on the critical issues because if you want to make a mind-shift and you want to change perception, it takes time to change a perception. But again, I appeal to young people to become involved and we need to make sure that they have the necessary skills. Yes, we need to public-private partnerships and the role of government must be clearly defined. We must create conditions for the private sector to operate,” she says.

During the various discussions on a variety of issues, the role of the youth in tourism and skilling them to have a meaningful impact in the industry repeatedly came up.

Miller Matola, CEO of Millvest Advisory, says not enough is being done to unlock the required skills in the tourism industry.

“We are not taking the necessary actions to unlock those skills. When we had the World Cup in 2010, we had to bring a lot of artisans outside of Africa and those skills are all over Africa. We need to free up access. The issues of visas; make it easier for people to move around,” he says.

CEO of Motsamayi Tourism Group, Jerry Mabena has thrown the gauntlet at the hotels and other establishments to take it upon themselves to train young people as suppliers.

“It’s not a difficult thing to do, but it has to be intentional. It doesn’t just happen. We have taken two guys and we are now training them to be full-time bakers. We will be kicking them out of our building in about six months and they must start to run their own bakery and we will buy bread from them and they will be selling to all other people as well. So, that is the one part,” quips Mabena.

“The other part is for the young people to also come up with those ideas and knock on doors. We have guys that come and harass us in some of our properties and at some point we have no choice but to give them a chance. We have a young lady who is a fashion designer who sells her products in front of our hotels and there are those opportunities, but they are not going to come to you. You have to go get them,” he adds.

The forum continues on Friday.