African countries brace for annual ATA congress


DAR ES SALAAM, Tanzania (eTN) – More than 15 African countries with competitive tourist attractions are expected to participate in next week’s thirty-third annual congress of the Africa Travel Association (ATA) , to be held in Tanzania’s northern tourist town of Arusha.

Organizers of this year’s ATA congress said some 13 African states were planning to send their delegates to Tanzania for the session, but expectations have been laid to register more than 15 countries. African countries south of Sahara, best known for their natural tourist attractions made up of wildlife and natural or geographical features, will be key participants.

Other than participating countries, some African companies specialized in travel trade, policy-making and tourism marketing strategies. More participants and key speakers are expected to come from Asian, Europe and North America.

Preparations for the ATA congress are at the final stages with all programs organized as planned. Hotel and other accommodation services have been set for the delegates, organizers said.

Tanzanian Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism and the ATA announced in June 2007 that Tanzania will host the thirty-third edition of the annual Africa Travel Association congress from 19-23 May 2008 in Arusha, the country’s “Safari capital.”
Former Natural Resources and Tourism Minister Jumanne Maghembe and ATA executive director Eddie Bergman made the announcement.

“When Tanzania hosted ATA in 1998, it marked the official re-launch of our country’s promotion in the American market,” said Minister Maghembe. “The results were excellent. Tourism in Tanzania is now booming.”

ATA has been playing significant roles to Tanzania’s tourism. The introduction of annual ATA/TTB awards was launched in 2001 to honor companies, individuals and the media, which have been in front line to promote Tanzanian tourism.

Since its launching in Kenya, ATA held its first congress in Nairobi in 1976, Abidjan (Cote D’Ivore) in 1977, Sousse/Monastir (Tunisia) in 1978 and in 1979 fourth ATA congress was in Tangier (Morocco).

Previous congresses have been held in various parts of Africa, with the exception of the eleventh congress, which marked the first time ATA’s annual congress was held outside Africa. That annual ATA gathering was held in Atlanta, Georgia (USA).

Other than annual congresses, ATA held a number of tourism symposia in campaigning for African tourism marketing across the continent and the world.

ATA ecotourism symposia have been held since 1992 in Senegal, South Africa (1994), Morocco (1996), Nigeria (2000), Cameroon (2001), Morocco (2002), Zanzibar , Tanzania (2003), Uganda (2004), Angola (2005) and in 2006 was held in Calabar, Nigeria.

ATA has also organized annual African presidential conferences in New York, which brought together African heads of state to discuss the continent’s common interests in tourism.