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Africa Travel Association announces 2009 Africa Congress

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Written by editor

NEW YORK, NY – The Hon. Zoheir Garranah, Egyptian Tourism Minister, and Edward

NEW YORK, NY – The Hon. Zoheir Garranah, Egyptian Tourism Minister, and Edward
Bergman, ATA executive director, announced that the Egyptian Tourism Ministry, in cooperation with the Egyptian Tourist Authority, will host the Africa Travel Association’s 34th Annual Congress in the capital city of Cairo from May 17-22, 2009.

“It is with great pride that we are now working with ATA to welcome the world to Egypt for ATA’s Annual Congress,” said Minister Garranah. “We look forward to welcoming the world to our country.”

Under the banner of “Connecting Destination Africa,” ATA’s hallmark event will be attended by African tourism ministers, national tourism board directors, private sector leaders, travel agents, tour operators, heads of nongovernmental organizations, scholars, and members of the media, who will discuss together challenges related to global tourism promotion to Africa.

“ATA is looking forward to engaging with the world’s leading travel specialists to bring the world to Africa,” Bergman said. “By combining Egypt’s unique capacity to achieve record numbers in tourist arrivals with ATA’s ability to bring diverse industry leaders together to shape Africa’s tourism agenda, this meeting holds tremendous promise for change in the industry and the global marketplace.”

The Egypt Congress builds on the success of the nation’s longstanding ties with ATA. In May 1983, ATA held its eighth congress in Cairo; its 16th was held in 1991. In 1983, the country had only recently launched promotional efforts. By 1991, tourism arrivals had more than doubled, helping the industry
become a mainstay of the country’s economy. After a drop in tourism arrivals in the 1990’s, numbers reached a record high of over 8.6 million in 2004, and today, tourism is the largest source of foreign currency revenue in Egypt. Building on this momentum, Egypt’s travel authorities plan to welcome 16
million tourism arrivals by 2014.

“We anticipate that the 2009 Congress will not only help Egypt reach its target, but it will also help the country generate even more tourism growth from the US and Africa, as well as from Asia and the Caribbean” said Bergman.

The Congress, to be held at the Cairo International Conference Center (CICC), will run for five days, engaging participants in working discussions on a range of topics, such as intra-African industry cooperation, infrastructure development, and investment opportunities. Roundtables for ministers,
suppliers, travel agents, and tour operators, alongside special networking events, a marketplace expo, and ATA Young Professionals events, will also be held. For the first time, ATA will also organize networking opportunities for Africans living in the Diaspora as part of its new Africa Diaspora Initiative.

“Egypt also stands as an example for other African destinations to turn to, especially given that foreign and Egyptian investments helped drive the tourism boom by helping the government target coast regions and build supportive tourism infrastructure, including accommodation stock and better airport services. In fact, ATA delegates will arrive in Egypt’s newly-opened international airport,” said Bergman.

Home to the world’s most ancient sites and famous monuments, including the Giza Pyramids, the Great Sphinx, the Nile, the Red Sea coral reefs, and Sharm El Sheik resort, as well as the grand Khan El Khalily market, Egypt stands as one of the continent’s top travel draws. Egypt will organize a Host Country Day
for delegates, who will have the opportunity to explore some of these tourism spots, as well as many more. Pre and post-country tours will also be offered.

To prepare for the event, ATA sent a delegation to Egypt in August for a site inspection. The team met the Hon. Zoheir Garranah, Minister of Tourism, Mr. Amr El Ezabi, Chairman of the Egyptian Tourist Authority (ETA), as well as Mr. Riad Kabil, Secretary General of the Egyptian Travel Agents Association, a 1,600-member association. The ATA delegation also met Captain Tawfik Assy, chair of Egyptair Holding Company, and Mr. Ashraf Osman, EGYPTAIR’s general manager of sales to introduce the association and the congress.

The 2008 Africa congress was held in Tanzania’s Safari Capital of Arusha, when over 300 tourism experts from around the world came together from May 19-23, 2008 to explore Africa’s competitive advantage in the global marketplace. Ethiopian Airlines served as the official congress carrier. Dubai World Africa
(DWA), ATA’s first Premier Partner, was a corporate sponsor of the event.