By eTurboNews with Ogova Ondego
Published September 2, 2013
Kenya is set to hold two crucial travel and tourism gatherings in Nairobi September 23-27, 2013 as Egypt offers cheaper travel and leisureÂ packages to encourage domestic tourism.
While Africa Hotel Investment Forum (AHIF) runs in Nairobi September 23-25, Eco-tourism and Sustainable Tourism Conference (ESTC) is scheduled for September 24-27.
The AHIF agenda focuses on how to capitalise long-term on the opportunities present in Africa and strategies to overcome the challenges facing hotel investment on the continent. ESTC, on its part, is expected to explore the benefits in tourism, poverty alleviation and the means to achieve sustainable development in Africa through the use of tourism.
Focusing on the role of eco-tourism in sustainable development, ESTC aims to strengthen the industryâ€™s commitment to the recent UN resolution, â€œPromotion of Eco-tourism for Poverty Eradication and Environment Protection,â€ which recognises ecotourismâ€™s positive impact on sustainable community development efforts.
The organisers–International Eco-tourism Society, Kenya Tourist Board, Eco-tourism Kenya, and United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO)– say ESTC will bring together 500 professionals from various sections of tourism across the world.
While in Nairobi, participants will discuss issues touching on the opportunities and solutions for the tourism industry to support conserving natural areas, alleviating poverty, empowering women, enhancing education, and improving the health and well-being of local communities.
“In a significant acknowledgment of tourism as a tool for promoting sustainable development, this milestone resolution stressing eco-tourism’s role in the fight against poverty and the protection of the environment was unanimously adopted by the UN General Assembly on December 21, 2012,” says Luigi Cabrini, UNWTO’s Director for Sustainable Development of Tourism.
Meanwhile ahram.org.eg Arabic news website reports that Egypt, whose tourism has been ailing since the onset of the ‘Arab Spring’ uprising in 2011, has launched an initiative to encourage domestic tourism in an attempt to boost hotel occupancy rates.
The initiative includes low-price packages for Egyptians, including air tickets and accommodation in four- and five star hotels.
Air companies affiliated with the Egyptian Ministry of Civil Aviation will cooperate with several hotels in the countryâ€™s most prominent tourism cities of Hurghada and Sharm El-Sheikh to introduce half-board programmes starting from LE1000 (about US$143), including air travel and staying for three nights.
Though the country’s tourism hit a slump following the ouster of Islamist president Mohamed Mursi on July 3, 2013, the situation worsened after the forced dispersal of two major sit-ins staged by Mursi supporters in Cairo and Giza and various western countries issued travel warnings on Egypt to their citizens.
The tourism sector, said to be accounting for 11.3% of the countryâ€™s GDP, isn’t doing well due to frequent protests and violence since the 2011 revolution. That 19 tourists died in a hot air balloon crash near the ancient town of Luxor, a popular tourist destination in February 2013, did not make matters any easier for the country.
Following the Luxor incident, the World Economic Forum Travel and Competitiveness Index listed Egypt last in terms of security and safety inÂ March 2013. The report, which included 140 countries, ranked Egypt behind Pakistan, Yemen and Chad.
The number of tourists plummeted to 9.5 million in 2011 compared to 2010 where the number of tourists recorded was 14 million, according to a report published by the stateâ€™s statistical agency, Central Agency for Public Mobilization and Statistic (CAPMAS).
But dailynewsegypt.com reports that experts discounts the ministryâ€™s figures, describing them asÂ â€œquestionableâ€ due to the frequent street protests and sexual harassment stories recounted by foreigners.