This is a speech given by Amb Mouhamed Faouzou DEME on “Rethinking tourism in 2022” which was the theme of the 42nd World Tourism Day organized by UNWTO. Among the attendance were such dignitaries as H.E. Cuthbert Ncube, Chairman of the ATB; H.E. Taleb Rifai, former SG/OMT Patron of ATB; H.E. Minister Edmun Bartley; Jamaica’s Minister of Tourism; H.E. Minister Philda Nani; Minister of Tourism of Botswana; and H.E. Amb Kazeem, Conference Moderator.
I am happy to meet all these beautiful people to discuss the future of African tourism.
What motivated UNWTO to choose the term “rethinking” and why rethinking tourism now?
Quickly before talking about prospectives for Africa, let’s first talk about the definition of the word “rethinking” to adapt it to the context of African tourism.
I will not touch issue of the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic since I know that other speakers have dwelt on it since it is also related to the theme of our conference. I will rather focus on how “Rethinking” our tourism entails after having understood the definitions and synonyms of the word “rethinking” and “thinking” which are in a way a call to action. Since the current challenges demand of us to take action.
When we look at the word “thinking” , it means to focus our attention on an idea, or to better think our idea and to analyze our idea in a proper way.
And when we look at the word “rethinking“, its definition refers to: how to consider again, or how to change and reconsider, or how to make things different.
Dear Ambassadors, it’s from these understanding that we are challenged to rethink the African tourism policy by action. We are very grateful to our Chairman Mr Cuthbert Ncube with all of his team who are doing an important work which is in line with the theme of the 42nd World Tourism Day.
What roadmap we need to rethink African tourism?
For myself “rethinking” our tourism means tackling the problems without complacency.
And first of all we have to fight for efficient air transport and connectivity – that is, the opening of the African skies by Africans and for Africans.
Dear Ambassadors, the opening of African skies has to be facilitated by strong African airlines, with code shares, joint ventures, south-to-south partnerships for the benefit of our economies, in collaboration with the African private sector. We need globally competitive airlines to develop our tourism industry. It’s not the only means of but let’s start with air transport and then we can move into developing rail and road infrastructure and transport means through the seas and the rivers.
Our airports are also spaces for tourism promotion. They also showcase our values. We have to keep an eye on the quality of our airport infrastructure because it needs to be rethought as part of the broader tourism programme and activities.
Rethinking African tourism also means to free ourselves from the European tourism model, and imposing our own model of accommodation, through our culture, our crafts, our gastronomy. If tourism means to welcome and introduce guests to our world’s view and to share with us the best of our times, we should then welcome them into our traditions and customs to give meaning to their stay and not reproduce their model of life here at home.
In line with Agenda 2063’s call for free movement of people and goods, we have to enjoy the freedom to come and to go within the continent with a single pan-African passport for tourism across the African space accompanied by the development of infrastructures, trade, training, security, peace and dialogue as some of the priorities in how to rethink tourism.
We should not forget how important it is to focus on digital; on the green economy; the preservation of the environment; and the respect for human rights.
This is why the words thinking and rethinking tourism challenge us; challenges us to take responsibility for the future of African tourism in which “rethinking” tourism without taking into account all the elements that I have just mentioned above is only a waste of time.
Dear colleagues, African tourism needs a high-level institutional support and we have to fiercely to achieve our goals. We must propose to the African Union (AU) to co-opt some private tourism associations and institutions such as the ATB to be affiliates of the African Tourism Commission and participate in some of the sessions of the Heads of State and Government Assemblies.
We are the only soldiers for the development of African tourism, so let’s stand up and fight with our ideas, our proposals, our conferences, our fam trips, our hosting of foreign guests, and our speeches.
Thank you for you kind attention
Who is Ambassador Mouhamed Faouzou DEME?
Mouhamed Faouzou DEME is a world-class emeritus man, an international tourism personality, who has an exceptional career.
He holds a Diploma of Advanced Studies in Tourism and Hospitality. He is also Civil aviation graduate with airport management expertise.
He has been in the world of travel, tourism and hospitality for over 30 years having served as a Senior Expert in Tourism and Hospitality; held professorships in several universities in Senegal; Technical Advisor to several government Ministries in Senegal; Ambassador of the African Tourism Board (ATB) for Senegal; and having been appointed World Tourism Hero by the World Tourism Network (WTN) in 2021. He was recognised as one of the “Top 30 Best African Tourism Experts in 2021” at the Pyne Awards.
In October 2022 in Gaborone, Botswana, during the African Tourism Partners Forum, he was nominated in ahead of his peers in the category of the best developer of post-COVID-19 progressive tourism policies in Africa. He is thus distinguished as the most influential personality in the sector across the continent.
During the same year, he was cited in the “top 100 of African tourism personalities of the year” by the International Hospitality Institute of New York.
He is a writer and author of a 218-page book on Senegalese tourism.
He’s often featured as a leading speaker in various conferences all over Africa and the world. An ardent writer, he is a columnist specializing in tourism issues in www.pourquoijaimelesenegal.com.
In 2018 he was nominated as a candidate in the elections of the Secretary-General of the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO).
He was elevated to the rank of Knight of the National Order of Merit in 2018 and Officer of the National Order of the Lion in 2022 on behalf of the Head of State by the Minister of Tourism and Air Transport of Senegal.
Alert and futuristic, his colourful name is synonymous with Senegalese tourism. Don’t you believe it? Just Google his name as the many listings will show you the exceptional and extraordinary journey of this man who is the pride of all roleplayers in African and global tourism.