Southern African Development Committee (SADC) countries will spend US$ 314 million between 2012 and 2017 to fund tourism projects in the region, media reports said here on Tuesday.
The SADC tourism arm, the Regional Tourism Organisation of Southern Africa (RETOSA), said it has drawn projects earmarked over the next five years to prop up slow tourism growth in the bloc.
RETOSA chairperson Fernanda Matsinha, said by the end of 2017, the region is to receive 63 million tourist arrivals, 58 percent of tourist arrivals into Africa.
“Going forward, the fundamental pillar for the success of our sector will depend on member states’ investment in expanded infrastructure development, air connectivity, accessibility and implementation of other initiatives,” said Matsinha.
“On the African continent, our region commands close to 50 percent of Africa’s tourism market share as measured by tourist arrivals,” she said.
Botswana’s minister of environment, wildlife and tourism, Tshekedi Khama, said more SADC finances should be channeled into RETOSA.
He said there ws a lot more that tourism could and should contribute to local, national and regional economies in terms of GDP, foreign exchange earnings, job creation or social development in rural areas.
“If you believe this as I do, then you must join me in wondering why our countries, through RETOSA, have not banded together more effectively to exploit the opportunities offered by tourism,” he said.