African Tourism Board Birthday Party with Aloha

Tomorrow, the African Tourism Board (ATB) is celebrating its two-year anniversary after its soft launch during the 2018 World Travel Market (WTM) in London with a promising future to shape marketing Africa before the world tourism map. There is a strong London – Hawaii connection, not only because Sierra Leone is seen as the Hawaii of Africa.

It all started a month earlier with an idea and a website . The website was established by eTurboNews as a commercial platform, and the idea came from eTurboNews Publisher Juergen Steinmetz.

Steinmetz, who is also Chairman of the International Coalition of Tourism Partners (ICTP) consulted with his partner Professor Geoffrey Lipman, President of the organization, and madethe African Tourism Board a project under the ICTP umbrella with the goal being to promote climate-friendly travel to Africa.

A month later and after consulting with industry leaders which included Alain St. Ange, the former Minister of Tourism from Seychelles; Walter Mzembi; and Dr. Taleb Rifai, Carol Weaving of Reed Exhibitions loved the idea and offered a complimentary room at World Travel Market in London for a soft launch of ATB.

The soft launching of the African Tourism Board took place on Monday, November 5, 2018, during World Travel Market in London at Excel where invited guests, key personalities, and dignitaries from the world tourist organization took the podium to launch the Board.

Invited were private stakeholders, VIPs, government officials, and media as well as key personalities who observed the soft launching of ATB in London. 

Sponsored by Reed Expo, the organizer of WTM, the event saw the birth of ATB whose task is to bring the African continent to the world tourism map with a mission of “Where Africa becomes one destination.”

During the event in London, the ATB patrons and elders made an announcement for the official launch of the Board in Cape Town, South Africa, in April the following year, 2019, during WTM Africa.

The African Tourism Board then stood as an association that is internationally acclaimed as a catalyst for the responsible development of travel and tourism to and from the African region. 

The Association provides aligned advocacy, insightful research, and innovative events to its members across Africa and those outside Africa with passion for the development of tourism in Africa.

Tourism executives and key personalities who had participated in ATB’s soft launching in London were Dr. Taleb Rifai, former Secretary General of UNWTO; Carol Weaving, Managing Director of oReed Exhibitions; Prof. Geoffrey Lipman of SunX and President of the International Coalition of Tourism Partners (ICTP); and  Alain St. Ange, former Minister of Tourism of the Seychelles.

Other executives who spoke during the London event under the leadership of Juergen Steinmetz were Graham Cooke, President and founder of World Travel Awards, and Tony Smith from I Free Group, Hong Kong.

African tourism ministers and heads of tourism boards from Mauritius, Sierra Leone, Seychelles, Cape Verde, Uganda, and the former minister from Zimbabwe also observed the ATB soft launch in London.

ICTP Chairman Juergen Steinmetz said during the event that Africa needs one voice to promote its rich tourist attractions to the world tourism markets.

“There has been an enormous interest in this project, highlighting the need to promote tourism in Africa,” he said. 

“Africa needs its own voice in the global industry with 54 countries, and many more different cultures, it is still a continent that needs to be discovered by many,” Steinmetz told the audience.

“The African Tourism Board is about business, investment, and development – all about bringing Africa together,” he said.

World Travel Awards President Graham Cooke said: “My experience with Africa is the lack of knowledge around the world about the continent, therefore, education is vital.

“There is a tremendous creativity in Africa and people need to hear about that. Africa should market itself as a single continent; the people should come together and present a single message,” Cooke added.

In partnership with public and private sector members, the African Tourism Board will provide leadership and counsel on an individual and collective basis to its members.

Steinmetz also touched on the process of bringing the African Tourism Board home to Africa and building a global network to promote the continent as the safest, most desirable and cleanest tourism destination in the world.

The aim of the African Tourism Board is to have a member in each African state for building an unparalleled network across the continent, he said.

“We will offer business projects which are available to members to which they can subscribe as they see fit,” added Steinmetz. The first initiatives from the Board include opportunities for investments, visibility, security, safety, and connectivity, among others.

After the successful soft launch of the new organization, Steinmetz went fishing using his eTurboNews network to attract a sizable membership base and candidates for leadership to bring ATB to the next step.