It is imperative to invest in technological development and in human resources by capacitating the next generation of tourism professionals and leaders with strong digital skills.

This, according to the United Nations World Tourism Organisation Director for the Africa Department Elcia Grandcourt, is paramount and instrumental to drive the future of the sector and contribute to the socio-economic advancement of the African region.

Grandcourt while addressing the opening session of the 5th African Youth in Tourism Innovation Summit (AYITS) on Wednesday in Swakopmund, said innovation, technology and digitalisation are an integral part of the evolution process of the tourism industry.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has sped up the urgency to integrate digital technology into the tourism and travel industry to reimagine businesses and destinations, design innovative tourism experiences, create or modify existing business operating processes, so as to adapt to the new conditions and features of the global context,” she explained.

Africa, she added is the youngest continent in the world, with 60 per cent of its population being under the age of 25, which should be an opportunity for the continent’s growth.

“This can only however be the case if these new generations are fully empowered to realise their best potential. It is thus especially important that young people are included in the decision-making processes and given appropriate opportunities and proper means to work and innovate the tourism sector,” the director stressed.

Erongo Governor Neville Andre Itope at the same event supported the recently established Africa Tourism Innovation Hub’s main objectives to support the digital transformation in the tourism sector and build pragmatic tourism entrepreneurship programmes that empowers the youth with insight of the tourism enterprises and business intellectual property in formation and access to global travel markets, mentorship and funding opportunities.

Established in Namibia at the 4th AYITS held in Windhoek in 2022, the African Tourism Innovation Hub aims to provide mentorship to enterprising youth from across the continent and transition their ideas into viable start-up companies.

“The Namibian Government has put together a roadmap which is the Tourism Sector Recovery Plan (2022-2024), to aid the recovery process of the sector,” Itope highlighted.

Source: The Namibia Press Agency

News Reporter