Rabat – Lahcen Haddad, the Moroccan minister of tourism will propose the adoption of what he calls the “African Charter for Sustainable Tourism” during his visit to the Ivory Coast for a continental tourism conference this week, a government communique obtained by Morocco World News said.
Haddad landed in Abidjan on Tuesday to attend the 58th edition of the annual conference of the African Commission for the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), according to the international organization’s website. Government officials and private stakeholders in African tourism will be present at the event ending on April 21st to discuss “accelerating the shift towards sustainable consumption and production patterns” and a 10-year framework of programs (10YFP) to achieve associated goals.
The Moroccan minister expects the sustainability pact to be signed “on the sidelines” of the COP22 climate to be held in Marrakech in November.
In January, Morocco adopted a draft charter on sustainable tourism during the first edition of the “Moroccan Day of Sustainable and Responsible Tourism” in Rabat.
“The proposal embodies the positioning of our country as a tourism sustainability leader in the region,” Hadded said in the communique.
During the ongoing meetings, world leaders will also discuss the implementation of the mission of the international organization Sustainable Tourism – Eliminating Poverty Initiative (ST-EP), which was born in Johannesburg in 2002 as part of the World Summit on Sustainable Development.
Emphasis will also be placed on the detriments of tourism development in the African continent to make sure the process occurs at an environmentally safe level, the minister’s release said.
“Hence, the need for strong cooperation focused on increased ownership in consumption patterns and sustainable production with greater distribution of wealth between the northern parts of the continent and the southern ones.”
Eleven years after the world summit in South Africa, over 35 countries had expressed interest in becoming founding members of ST-EP and hosting regional offices for the organization in the country, though little news of the opening of new offices have been reported since the original show of interest.
Last December, the U.N. declared a resolution naming 2017 as the “International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development.”
Tourism represents an important source of income for African nations due to the inflow of foreign currency it generates, which grows the countries’ GDPs and creates new employment opportunities.
Critics, notably from the U.N,’s own environmental division – suggest that an emphasis on tourism makes impoverished countries dependent on the well-being of developed economies, as tightly-budgeted families are less likely to go on vacation.
According to the division’s statistics, poorer countries in Africa rely on tourism to generate income for the survival of their people. Gambia, for instance, utilizes 30 percent of its workforce to provide services and goods directly and indirectly related to its expected visitors.
Numbers describing the continent as a whole say vacationers’ economic hold on Africa will remain the same in the coming decade. A 2015 report by the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) said it expects the industry it represents to make-up over six percent of Africa’s total Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in 2025 – not a significant change from the report’s slightly lower estimate for 2015, which was also just above six percent of GDP.
A Morocco-specific analysis by the WTTC in 2015 said the tourism industry’s share in the national economy would stagnate at just below 18 percent from 2014 to 2025.