Kwakwa’s speech emphasized the importance of sustainable and inclusive growth in the industry while acknowledging the significant hurdles countries have encountered. She highlighted the sector’s struggles with access to energy and digital connectivity, which continue to hinder progress. Drawing attention to the World Bank’s commitment to addressing these challenges, Kwakwa said the number of World Bank tourism projects in Africa had nearly doubled since 2019.
Investing in Sustainable Tourism
With 20 active lending projects across the region in 14 countries, the World Bank has invested approximately ZAR 23 billion in Africa. These projects were designed to align with green and Paris Agreement principles, focusing on inclusivity, community benefits, and conservation.
Linking Poverty and Climate
Kwakwa elaborated on the intricate connection between poverty and climate. “There is now widespread agreement that poverty and climate are inseparably linked.” She shared the World Bank’s updated vision of eradicating poverty within the framework of a sustainable planet.
Job Creation and Economic Contributions
The speech highlighted the tourism sector’s potential as a driver of job creation, particularly for women, youth, and rural communities. Kwakwa emphasized that tourism’s contributions extended beyond mere economic gains, encompassing foreign exchange earnings, government revenues, and infrastructure development.
- Tourism can attract new customers to local markets.
- It triggers broad spillovers to other sectors such as manufacturing, agriculture, and the protection of natural and cultural heritage.
Sustainable Tourism Post-Pandemic
In the context of the pandemic, Kwakwa recognized the increased significance of domestic and regional tourism in boosting demand and reducing carbon emissions from long-haul visitors. However, she cautioned that not all forms of tourism were conducive to a sustainable future and emphasized the need for strategic planning.
World Bank’s Commitment
Reflecting on the post-pandemic landscape, Kwakwa highlighted the World Bank’s commitment to charting a sustainable path for the tourism industry. She revealed a substantial increase in World Bank tourism projects in Africa, emphasizing green initiatives, inclusivity, and community benefits. While acknowledging the strides made, Kwakwa acknowledged the tourism sector’s ongoing struggle with carbon emissions, resource consumption, and waste production.
Collaboration for Sustainability
She called for collaboration between the public and private sectors to unlock further opportunities for sustainable growth. Closing her address, Kwakwa commended the collaborative efforts emerging from the pandemic, with various stakeholders uniting to share expertise and resources.
- Successful initiatives in Sierra Leone, São Tomé and Principe, South Africa, Uganda, and Zambia.
The Way Forward
In her concluding remarks, Kwakwa urged the delegates to view tourism not only as a driver of economic growth but also as a catalyst for climate action and a means to enhance the planet’s liveability. “Let us embark on this transformative journey together.”
Sustainability is undeniably the key to unlocking the full potential of South Africa’s tourism sector. With the World Bank’s substantial investment and emphasis on green and inclusive initiatives, the nation is poised for sustainable growth. By prioritizing sustainability, South Africa can not only boost its economy but also address climate change and create a better future for all.