We all know that planet Earth is in peril
Global warming, plastic pollution, environmental degradation, energy inefficiency, human-animal conflict, safety, security, unemployment, poverty, hunger – the list is endless.
On the environmental side, coastal regions, in particular, are undergoing rapid decline. It is estimated that approximately 3 billion people — about half of the world’s population — live within 200 kilometres of a coastline. In Africa, the average population density in coastal areas is about 80 people per square kilometre, twice the world’s average population density.
As an industry, tourism is ideally positioned to make a difference.
It generated 10% of the World’s GDP and created 1/10 jobs worldwide in 2018. As such, tourism impacts the World across many fronts, including economic growth and development, environmental protection, cultural preservation, peace, and security. However, the potential of Africa’s tourism remains largely untapped. The United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) reports that the African region receives only a 3% share in tourism receipts and a 5% share in worldwide arrivals.
And yet, the African continent is endowed with rich diversity, an abundance of natural beauty, cultural heritage and historical sites, wildlife, safaris, beaches, deserts and so much more. If channelled correctly, these assets could provide considerable opportunities for niche tourism growth and, above all, solve many of the factors that inhibit tourism growth in Africa.
Universal factors that place planet Earth in peril.
Fortunately, there are strategies in place to measure, enhance, and overcome these factors by 2030. They’re known as the United Nations (UN) Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
In addition, the UN Environmental Programme ‘Decade on Ecosystem Restoration (2021-2030)’ aims to prevent, halt and reverse the degradation of ecosystems on every continent and in every ocean. It can help to end poverty, combat climate change and prevent a mass extinction. It will only succeed if everyone plays a part.
But 2030 is just a decade away.
So, how can Africa play its part?
As an African collective, we need to rally behind the UN Environmental Programme. We need to gather local research data applicable to each of the 17 SDGs; we need to create awareness of the SDGs; we need to identify new tourism opportunities; we need to showcase our natural and cultural heritage assets to global audiences through storytelling; and we need to do all of this through mass participation and action.