Africa Youth in Tourism (AYT) in collaboration with World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) and Ghana Tourism Authority (GTA) has over the weekend, hosted youths across the sub region in the 2021 summit and 3rd edition of Africa Youth Tourism Innovation Summit and Challenge (AYTIC)
The AYTIC is the “one and only” pan-African Youth and start-ups in Tourism summit on the continent, and since its inception in 2018, it has served as a pan-African gathering that brings together youth start-ups. It also serves as an exclusive gathering for innovative African youth in travel and tourism looking for partnership, market access, mentorship and funding opportunities to present thier projects to the global marketplace in order to find the required support.
In a welcome address, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of GTA, Akwesi Agyeman expressed joy for Ghana to be hosting this year’s summit under the theme ” Empowering African youth through tourism innovation, education and investment in a changing world.”
Mr. Agyeman stated that real progress in the tourism sector will only be made through a continuous, coordinated efforts to empower the youth at all levels. “This summit presents a valuable opportunity for us to come together, share ideas, learn more, and discuss strategy”. Mr. Agyeman stressed.
“The future is youth, and it is imperative that we make the required efforts to tap into the innovative ideas they possess” Mr. Agyeman added.
Delivering a speech, the Regional Director for Africa- UNWTO, Elcia Grandcourt reiterated that Tourism is one of the world’s leading employers, generating around 1 in 10 of all jobs globally. According to her, tourism is also a hub of entrepreneurship, allowing people of all ages and backgrounds to make their own opportunities and transform the sector for the better.
She further disclosed that, the agenda for Africa tourism for inclusive growth is the 10 point plan guiding the programme of work of the UNWTO Regional Department for Africa.
It recognises youth empowerment through tourism as one of the main priorities to be fulfilled with a view of creating employment opportunities, generating added value for the sector, and spurring socio-economic development.
” with 60% of the population under the age of 25, Africa is the the world’s youngest continent. It will therefore heavily rely on youngsters to lead the future economic growth of the continent . This can be achieved through unlocking the potential of the tourism sector to serve as a catalyst to attract investments and as a key pillar to promote the uniqueness and diversity of African destinations worldwide, allowing them flourish and thrive”. She added.
On his part, Ghana’s Minister for Tourism, Arts and Culture, Dr. Ibrahim Mohammed Awal mentioned that being a youth-oriented Initiative, AYTIC is a perfect platform to build back Tourism after the ravages of COVID-19 .
He reiterated the platform provides the youth, the opportunity to weigh in on issues hindering the growth of tourism in Africa and making useful contributions on the way forward.
” it is my firm belief that the young generation is ready to showcase their innovativeness by thinking outside the box and creating something that can contribute to the Tourism sector going forward”. Mr. Awal added.
He opined, its time for us to creatively look at our sector, innovate and empower the youth and build their capacity to play an active and enthusiastic role in the Africa debate and make meaningful contributions to the continuing efforts at a stronger Africa.
” it’s time to create the enabling environment to make lasting changes and meet the challenges of an ever- changing world” Mr. Awal added amidst cheers from the guests.
He seized the opportunity to thank the organisers as well as all the partners that have made this summit reality.
By: Kingsley Asiedu