Come the year 2013, African tourism is set to observe milestone events that will take place in various African cities to attract an international travel and tourism audience.

First, there is the annual “Carnaval International de Victoria” that is staged in the Indian Ocean tourist islands of Seychelles from February 8-10. Organized by the Indian Ocean Vanilla Island Regional Organization made up of Seychelles, La Reunion, and Madagascar, the 2013 Carnaval International de Victoria has attracted the participation of Zimbabwe, an African safari destination outside the Indian Ocean waters.

Seychelles’ International Carnival of Victoria will be held over a 3-day period to become a focal point for representatives from the world’s most famous carnivals who will be invited to the Seychelles islands to take part in this exciting international event taking place in Africa.

Next, the Africa Travel Association (ATA) will host the 38th Annual World Congress in Cameroon from May 29 to June 2, with expectations to bring together hundreds of tourism leaders and professionals from government, business, and nonprofit sectors to promote tourism development to and across Africa from around the world.

“Building on this incredible momentum, we are excited to partner with our long-time member, Cameroon, to bring tourism professionals looking to do business in Africa to the country, where delegates will have the opportunity to build new connections, learn about the latest industry trends, and explore the country’s newest products,” said ATA Executive Director Edward Bergman.

“At our 37th Congress in Zimbabwe in May 2012, we brought together more than 500 industry professionals to explore how tourism, with growth rates in emerging markets outperforming more established destinations, is one of the most promising industries on the African continent for development,” Bergman said.

The 2013 ATA Congress will be hosted by the Cameroonian Ministry of Tourism and Leisure under the auspices of the Honorable Minister Bello Bouba Maigari.

Delegates will have the opportunity to explore Destination Cameroon’s products, including an abundance of natural and cultural resources with strong cultural heritage and eco-tourism products ripe for growth.

The ATA congress offers a lineup of educational and professional development seminars for travel professionals. Topics include social media, branding and marketing, attracting media coverage, product development, growth markets, cultural tourism, culinary tourism, airline access, and the latest travel trends in Africa. A wide range of networking events, including receptions and gala dinners will also be held.

This annual event in Africa offers a unique networking, learning, and agenda-shaping platform for the most diverse group of buyers and sellers of Destination Africa of any travel industry event on the continent.

Participants include African tourism ministers, industry professionals representing tourism boards, travel agencies and tour operators, conference and incentive operators, ground operators, airlines, and hotels, as well as the travel trade media.

Participants from the corporate, nonprofit, and academic sectors are also expected to attend, along with leaders of the African Diaspora.

The Eighth Routes Africa is the other milestone gathering that will take place from July 7-9, 2013 in Kampala, Uganda, and is hosted by the Civil Aviation Authority of Uganda and Entebbe International Airport.

Routes Africa is the key event for airports, airlines, tourism authorities, policy leaders, keynote speakers, and exhibitors to meet, do business, and plan for the future of Africa’s aviation and tourism development.

The annual networking gathering brings together more than 250 key players in the airline and airport industry from across the African region and beyond for strategic networking on air service development.

Uganda, which is widely known as the Pearl of Africa, has a fast-growing tourism sector with an annual growth rate of 21 percent on average, contributing 24 percent of the total foreign exchange earnings. Domestic tourism has grown by 50 percent over the past 10 years.

Uganda is home to 53 percent of the world’s mountain gorilla, also the source of the longest river on the African continent and the world, the river Nile.

Routes Africa is the only network planning forum for the African region, and the 8th Routes Africa event is expected to attract 250 key decision makers from across Africa and beyond.

Senior executives from leading African airlines are the key participants and speakers targeted to participate in the Routes Africa Forum.

Of the milestone events, Africa has been honored to host the UN World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) General Assembly, that will be taking place in the twin towns of Livingstone and Victoria Falls in Zambia and Zimbabwe in August.

This biggest gathering of key tourism policymakers from all corners of the world will be co-hosted in Livingstone city on the Zambian side and Victoria Falls town on the Zimbabwean side from August 24 to 29 this year.

Zambia and Zimbabwe are expecting a maximum of 4,000 participants during the UNWTO General Assembly, comprising 1,500 delegates from more than 180 member states, affiliate and associate members of the UNWTO, the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC), and the general traveling public.

The general assembly is the principal gathering of the UNWTO which meets after every 2 years to consider the budget and program of work of the United Nations specialized agency on tourism.

Delegates to the general assembly are drawn from the 6 regional commissions of the UNWTO from Africa, the Americas, the East and Pacific Europe, the Middle East, and South Asia.

In Tanzania, the year 2013 will mark a new start in tourism development through implementation of the just-released International Tourism Marketing Strategy under the coordination of the Tanzania Tourist Board (TTB).

With its international tourism marketing budget, the Tanzania Tourist Board is now looking at Germany, the United Kingdom, and Italy as key and primary tourism source markets, while France, the Netherlands, Canada, Australia, and Spain are earmarked as 5 secondary existing mature source markets for tourism.

In addition, potential of the new growth source markets of China, Russia, Turkey, Brazil, and the Gulf States will be researched and monitored by tourist stakeholders identified by this tourism marketing strategy document.

The 129-page international tourism marketing strategy document also planned to utilize 90 percent of the marketing budget for Tanzania tourist products in the said 4 primary markets and 2 tertiary markets, making in total 11 countries.

Tanzanian Tourism Minister Mr. Khamis Kagasheki pointed out that tourism is culture, economy, life, leisure, business and other fields, with the industry becoming more important in creating jobs and earning more foreign currency. The range of tourist attractions available show that Tanzania is exceptional and has a lot to offer than other countries, he further affirmed.

“So we need to promote tourist attractions that we have in Tanzania so that we can attract more visitors to see the country’s exceptional blend of scenery of wildlife and human culture,” Mr. Kagasheki said.

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Photo Credit: A landscape shot from a safari in TSAVO East National Park in Kenya. Simone Roda / Flickr