FITUR 2018, a key space for promoting African tourism through INVESTOUR
The International Tourism Trade Fair, FITUR 2018, held by IFEMA from 17 to 21 January at Feria de Madrid, will yet another year set the stage for the 9th Tourism Investment and Business Forum for Africa, INVESTOUR, organised jointly by FITUR, the World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) and Casa África. This event, which will take up all of Thursday 18 January, will discuss some of the most pertinent topics for the African continent, prominent among them Brand Africa and its impact on tourism in the African continent.
In addition to the now traditional rounds of B2B (business to business) meetings, the 2018 event will revolve around two central themes: Brand Africa—which will deal with the need to change the perception of African reality, distancing it from preconceptions regarding the continent— and biodiversity as a driver of sustainable tourism, discussing the challenges and opportunities of nature tourism and safaris in Africa and the importance of local communities in its development.
Worldwide tourism is riding high at the moment. From January to August 2017, tourism grew by 6.6%, amounting to 901 million international tourists, 56 million more than in the same period of 2016. Africa was the region that saw the greatest growth (9%), driven by the rise in tourism in North Africa (15%) and by the positive figures for Sub-Saharan Africa (5%). By 2030, the UNWTO expects international traveller figures to have reached 1.8 billion. This is an opportunity that Africa cannot miss.
.FITUR as a major platform for debate
INVESTOUR, which is held as part of FITUR 2018, has enabled an inclusive platform in which to gather together in the same space political leaders, investors looking for business opportunities in the African market and entrepreneurs seeking to start up new projects. This direct contact gives them the opportunity to explore the real possibilities of materialising initiatives that will increase investments in different segments of the value chain in the tourism industry, contributing to the sustainable economic and social development of African countries.
For Taleb Rifai, secretary-general of the UNWTO until the new secretary-general-elect, the Georgian Zurab Pololikashvili, takes up office in 2018, the role played by INVESTOUR in driving the industry he knows best is a clear one: «INVESTOUR has demonstrated not only the great importance of this type of platform when it comes to promoting business, but also the vast potential that tourism has in Africa, as reflected in the results obtained by the region in recent years in terms of international tourist figures». Eduardo López-Puertas, managing director of FITUR, agrees with this diagnosis: «The forum has not only become a touchstone within FITUR; it is also an unavoidable meeting point for investors and actors involved in developing African tourism».
The objectives for this new staging are clear for Casa África. Its managing director, Luis Padrón, sums it up: «our goal is to promote exchanges, creating a platform on which professionals from the world of tourism from both shores can meet up, debate, understand each other and look for ways to cooperate and grow together».