In 2003 some young future tourism leaders in Somalia had a dream when they wore their Hawaiian Aloha Shirt on a domestic college trip. Finally, in 2030 this dream should be a reality for World Tourism Network members and holiday seekers anywhere when the new EAC Member Country Somalia aims to be the perfect Sand, Sea, and Cultural travel and tourism destination in East Africa.
World Tourism Network VP for international relations, Hon. Alain St. Ange, the former Seychelles Minister of Tourism, congratulated Somalia for joining the East African Community, saying this is a new opportunity to start rebuilding the travel and tourism industry.
Somalia, a WTN Member since 2020
The Somalia Association of Travel and Tourism Agents (SATTA) was one of the first members of the World Tourism Network when Ali Farah of SATTA participated in the rebuilding.travel discussion by WTN and approached WTN Chairman Juergen Steinmetz in 2020 saying:
The Somalia Association of Travel and Tourism Agents (SATTA) is an association representing travel and tourism agencies operating in Somalia, and we want to expand our service interact with other international associations, and be a member of the World Tourism Network to get experience from you.
SATTA is a private, independent organization founded in Somalia through a formal agreement between the country’s private travel agencies, to allow the organization to represent the travel and tourism agency’s interests at the national as well as international level.
IATA Rescued Somalia’s Aviation
In February 2023, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) and the Government of the Federal Republic of Somalia agreed to deepen and formalize cooperation with the aim of strengthening the economic and social benefits of aviation in Somalia.
The vision of the national tourism policy for Somalia is to host international tourists in the year 2030. Tourism leaders in Somalia understand this means the country has to reach a level of recognition for tourism in Africa, and safety, security is a top priority.
An important next step was achieved last week Friday when Somalia officially joined the Community of East African States (EAC), the regional organization with a single market allowing the free movement of goods and people.
The EAC, which has its headquarters in Arusha, Tanzania, now comprises 8 countries: Somalia Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania, South Sudan, Uganda, and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
EAC says we are one people with one destiny.
Founded in 2000, one of the aims of the EAC is to facilitate cross-border trade by abolishing customs duties between its member states. It established a common market in 2010.
Excluding Somalia, the EAC countries cover an area of 4.8 million square kilometers and have a combined gross domestic product of 305 billion dollars.
With a population of about 17 million, Somalia has the longest coastline on the African continent (more than 3,000 km), bringing the EAC’s potential market to more than 300 million people.
Somalia’s Fight Against Radical Islamic Groups
For more than 16 years, the Somali government, with the backing of the international community, has been engaged in combat against the Shebab, a radical Islamist group affiliated with al-Qaeda. In the fight against the insurgents, Kenya and Uganda are providing military personnel as part of an African Union mission deployed in Somalia.
The Mogadishu-based Heritage Institute for Policy Studies think-tank highlights that Somalia’s accession to the EAC marks a significant move in the bloc’s expansion into East Africa.
However, the think-tank also raises concerns about Somalia’s governance, human rights, and adherence to the rule of law, which might pose challenges to its integration within the bloc.
Somali tourism leaders often working independently in the private sector are excited to witness the recent developments.
Yasir Baffo, a Somali Tourism leader in Rwanda
Yasir Baffo, now the CEO of Rwanda-based Bravo Baffo Ltd was the senior Tourism advisor to the minister of tourism for Somalia in 2019.
He said: “Just one month ago celebrated 6 years at the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) He was congratulated by the UNWTO Head of Africa, a Seychelles native Elcia Grandcourt.
My Tourism vision and dream about Somalia wasn’t a joke.
People used to say, you are Crazy studying and promoting Somalia Tourism. And I used to say “If I am crazy today, there will be a time when everyone will be crazy about Tourism” and everyone is almost crazy about Tourism and Hospitality today – when it comes to Somalia.
In 2003 Yasir took a photo when he organized a trip for his secondary schoolmates from Mogadishu to Lafoole almost 20 KM from the capital Mogadishu wearing Hawaiian Shirts and an Aloha Spirit for a travel and tourism dream for his country.
Why to wear your Aloha Shirt in Somalia?
In 2030 tourism is expected to be booming in Somalia. Why not wear your Aloha Shirt from 2003 when visiting the white sandy beaches in this beautiful East African Country – so similar to Hawaii?
The Department of Tourism for Somalia shares a lot of his vision. It wants to propel the tourism sector in Somalia as a key engine of economic growth and enhance the visibility of Somalia as a top-class tourist destination in traditional, emerging, and new markets.
Do not Travel to Somalia yet
In the meantime travel warnings by many Western countries remain warning its citizens: Do not travel to Somalia due to the dangerous security situation and the threat of armed conflict, terrorism, kidnapping, and violent crime.
WTTC hears Appeal from Somalia
Somalia’s Tourism Minister attended the recently concluded World Travel and Tourism Summit in Kigali, Rwanda.
The Minister of Information, Culture, and Tourism of the Federal Republic of Somalia, Daud Aweis, delivered a compelling presentation at the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) Global Summit in Rwanda, showcasing the substantial progress Somalia has made in revitalizing its tourism sector.