African states must work together to open the continent’s skies in order to maximise the potential of the tourism sector, according to World Travel & Tourism Council president David Scowsill.
Speaking at the World Routes Strategy Summit in Durban, Scowsill hailed the success of air liberalising initiatives across the world and called on Africa’s governments to put aside decades of differences, to heed the success of open skies reforms across the world by fully implementing open skies across the continent.
“Africa is a vast continent.
“The distances between the major cities is so great, with poor trans-continental road and rail networks, that flying is the only realistic way to travel.
“The economic potential of tourism in Africa is remarkable.
“According to our figures it will rival Asia Pacific for growth in the next decade.
“But for this to materialise or even be exceeded, it needs individual nations to work together on progressively implementing the Yamoussoukro Agreement signed over 25 years ago.
Scowsill added: “The biggest single opportunity for Africa is to fully liberalise its air travel. The role of aviation in creating jobs and driving economic growth is too important to be ignored, particularly when restrained by one ministry’s mandate to protect a national airline.
“The industry requires a coherent aviation policy.
“It cannot make financial sense for a country to protect one or two companies, at the expense of the economic growth of an entire industry.
“Travel generates economic growth, jobs and investment.
“Aviation liberalisation creates more routes, greater competition and lower fares.
“We urge the continent’s leaders to fully liberalise aviation for the potential of our industry to be fully realised.”