Following the conclusion of the COMESA Business Forum, held alongside the 16th COMESA Summit at the end of last month in Kampala, the secretariat has now released the “Munyonyo Declaration” in which key elements discussed by hundreds of delegates, and the respective conclusions and recommendations are now available on the COMESA Business Council website www.comesabusinessforum.org
The 12 key points contained in the document deal with such wide topics as the green economy; micro, small, and medium enterprises; agriculture and food security; the all-important infrastructure development; boosting intra-COMESA trade; gender and business; youth and enterprise development; and for the first time, tourism.
The latter was reflected as follows:
Recognizing that tourism is the second largest contributor to Africa’s economy after agriculture, member states are urged to improve on various innovative mechanisms of up-scaling the sector.
To this effect, member states are requested to work closely with the private sector in order to promote and market tourism at national, regional, and international level[s].
The private sector further requests the COMESA Secretariat to table an agenda item on the marketing and promotion of tourism in the COMESA Region, during the upcoming UN World Tourism Organization [UNWTO] Annual General Meeting in 2013, jointly hosted by Zambia and Zimbabwe.
Further issues raised at the forum included the need to streamline a common visa regime, ultimately permitting foreign tourists to travel within the COMESA region on a single visa, as well as raising the importance of tourism on national levels as a top-priority economic sector.
Notably, IGAD has also included tourism in its various activities and programs, presently developing a foundation of a common regional tourism master plan, as has the East African Community, underscoring the growing recognition the sector now receives within regional trade and political frameworks and by national governments.
The next 17th COMESA Summit will be held in November 2013 in Kinshasa.