SADC looks up to tourism . . . to boost regional economic growth

Posted By Stop Illegal Fishing:9th Feb, 2018: MCS

Gaborone – SADC member states have agreed to fast-track the review of the Protocol on Tourism Development as part of efforts to boost economic growth in the region.

A joint meeting of SADC ministers responsible for Environment and Natural Resources, Fisheries and Aquaculture and Tourism held in South Africa recently emphasised the protocol’s importance to the economies of member states and its interconnectedness with other sectors.

Only the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Malawi and Seychelles voted against the review being brought forward.

Speaking at the meeting, South Africa’s Minister for Tourism Tokozile Xasa highlighted matters affecting the environment, wildlife, forestry, aquaculture and fisheries and tourism. She added that the commitments made at the meeting would strengthen SADC’s contribution to sustainability, inclusive growth and the realisation of the Sustainable Developed Goals and Africa’s Agenda 2063.

Ministers noted progress made in implementation of these programmes and the areas where implementation was lagging due to limited resources and they directed the SADC Secretariat to mobilise resources for their implementation.

They agreed to sign the charter establishing the Fisheries Monitoring Control and Surveillance Coordination Centre in Mozambique.

The ministers also approved the establishment of the Regional Financing Facility for SADC Trans-Frontier Conservation Areas (TFCAs) and directed the Secretariat to finalise implementation modalities in collaboration with the Project Steering Committee. They noted with concern that the SADC Protocol on Environmental Management and Sustainable Development had not entered into force and urged member states to ratify the protocol.

They also discussed the implementation of the Multilateral Environmental Agreements (MEAs) which member states were party to, such as the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCC), United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) and United Nations Convention Combating Desertification (UNCCD).

Member states further directed SADC’s Secretariat to fast-track the review of Regional Tourism Organisation of Southern Africa (Retosa) Charter and the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the two secretariats.

In July 2016, Retosa was integrated into the SADC Secretariat as a full directorate, as a transitional mechanism during a regional summit held in Gaborone following the approval of the proposal made in 2014.

RETOSA is a SADC body responsible for the promotion and marketing of tourism in the region and its 16-member states are supportive of its existence as a means of promoting regional integration.

Meanwhile, the SADC Secretariat has agreed to fully support and actively assist Retosa to establish partnerships and secure resources from international co-operating partners toward a tourism destination marketing strategy.

According to the latest press statement, the strategy aims to move the SADC region’s share of tourism from its current 2% of global tourist arrivals and receipts to 5% within the next decade.

“The SADC governments now have the important task of activating the Tourism Coordinating Unit (TCU) at the SADC Secretariat, which is a key requirement for the completion of the Retosa transformation. It must be remembered that Retosa’s new priority is to secure smart partnerships with the region’s private-sector players toward a focused destination marketing strategy,” said Lily Rakorong,Retosa chairperson.

Source: The Southern Times

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