UN Body Paints Scenic Picture for African Tourism

International tourism grew by 4 per cent worldwide between January and April this year, a UN World Tourism Organisation official said Monday. UNWTO secretary general Taleb Rifai said in Africa, the sector grew by 3 per cent while in the sub-Saharan Africa the industry registered a 9 per cent increase in the same period.

Last year international tourism receipts were estimated to have reached $919 billion worldwide up from $851 billion in 2009.Mr Rifai attributed growth in 2010 to improved economic conditions worldwide, adding that global international tourism recovered faster than expected from the impacts of 2008 and 2009 financial crisis and economic recession.

Recovery in international tourism, he said, was good news especially for developing countries in Africa which rely on the sector for revenue and jobs. Mr Rifai said they forecast international tourist arrivals to grow at between 4 and 5 per cent a rate slightly above the long term average.

He spoke at the Serena Beach hotel in Mombasa yesterday during a press conference which was held by East African Community tourism ministers.

Tourism minister Najib Balala said East African countries have resolved to brand the region as a single tourist destination to help boost the sector.

Mr Balala said that the States have agreed to solve travel bottlenecks such as visa, transport and other cross border issues including those of the private sector to promote regional tourism.