Throughout Africa, tourism brings much needed funds and takes many different forms. Many associate Africa’s tourism industry with its famous national parks. However, tourism can take the form of sports and leisure, black heritage tours, or the exploration of African culture. There are trips for Africans who want to return to the continent either to visit or to retire. The Africa Travel Association (ATA) was launched in 1975 and is based in New York, with offices throughout the United States. Ogo Sow of Senegal is one of many members of the ATA; he now lives in Atlanta, Georgia.
He explained that the goals of the organization are to promote travel to the continent from the United States and to promote travel within Africa.
He says at the association’s annual congress, members meet with African tourism ministers, representatives of travel agencies, airlines and hotels, along with American tour operators, travel agencies and tourists, “to find out how [best] we can bring Africans together to communicate, to interact, and to network for the benefit of Africa tourism development.”
Sow also says part of the purpose is to see what investment and tourism possibilities can be brought to the American market. Sow says tourism involves airline companies, travel agencies and technical experts.
He says tourism also involves investment, that the two are interrelated in their objectives. For example, the hotel industry, as well as the bed and breakfast industry, relies on tourism as a source of revenue.
He says he has received positive feedback about the efforts of the ATA, “like African governments who…ask us to organize a conference in their country.” He cites Nigeria and Ghana as examples, saying Nigeria approached the ATA to organize a conference for them “because they want the Africa Travel Association to promote Nigeria in terms of tourism, culture and investment.”
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