At the first Africa Tourism Leadership Forum held in Accra, Ghana recently, key tourism stakeholders from across the continent shared insights and helped devise strategies for intra-Africa travel and tourism growth.

‘Destination Africa’ was the focus of discussion, placing the spotlight on tourism as a major economic pillar for diversifying African economies.

According to the World Travel & Tourism Council, the tourism sector is anticipated to support over 380 million jobs by 2027.

SAACI CEO Rudi van der Vyver, who was a speaker at the forum, says it is truly encouraging that at least 70 percent of discussions revolved around business tourism.  “There was general agreement that, with an increased focus on business events in Africa, leisure will follow.  Many continent-wide initiatives will follow from this forum, with tourism in all corners of Africa set to benefit.  Each panel will report back on at least one concrete project next year.”

The inaugural Africa Travel and Tourism Innovation awards, held during the event, highlighted and recognised game-changing initiatives across the sector, with South African companies and organisations receiving huge accolades.

South Africa was named the most innovative business tourism destination in Africa, with the Western Cape and Cape Town the second-runner up in the category.  Sabi-Sabi Game Reserve was the winner in the category for the most outstanding accommodation facilities, with &Beyond the second runner-up.

South African Airways was the first runner-up in the category for outstanding tourism transportation, after Ethiopian Airlines.  FlySafair was the second runner-up.

The Nelson Mandela Foundation was the first runner-up in the ‘Destination Africa – Lifetime Award’ category.

“SAACI congratulates all these winners and finalists,” says Rudi. “So much outstanding work is being done to make South Africa a top business events destination.  Keep up the good work!”