This Morning

Weekend Mornings on Asnycnow Radio

Africa Travel Association (ATA) Annual Congress – Press Release




Africa Travel Association

Release: June 7, 2012










International event convenes over 500 delegates from governments, business and the


non-profit sectors to address growth of African tourism.


U.S. Ambassador to Zimbabwe stresses importance of trade and investment between


USA and Zimbabwe in improving understanding.


New York, June 8, 2012



– The Africa Travel Association, the world’s leading travel industry

trade association promoting tourism to Africa, held its 37



Annual Congress in Victoria Falls,

Zimbabwe, May 18 – 22, 2012. More than 500 delegates from government, business and the


non-profit sectors gathered at ATA’s hallmark event in Africa.


The theme, “Africa Tourism: Partnering for the Future,” focused on how tourism, with growth


rates in emerging markets outperforming more established destinations, is one of the most


promising industries on the African continent for development. South African Airways served as


Presenting Sponsor and Official Congress Carrier and Arik Air served as Official Media Carrier.


“Our 37




Congress has been a real success with significant outcomes that will have a positive

impact on the tourism industry in Zimbabwe and across Africa,” said Edward Bergman, ATA


Executive Director. “Now more than ever, the tourism industry has a greater ability to affect lives


and contribute to positive growth and development and ATA is pleased to be at the heart of this




Delegates included five tourism ministers from Central African Republic, Ghana, Namibia,


Uganda and Zimbabwe, along with government representatives from Angola, Egypt, Ethiopia,


Kenya, Tanzania, Togo and Zambia, and hundreds of participants from around the world.


The Congress was hosted by the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority (ZTA) under the auspices of


Honorable Minister of Tourism and Hospitality Industry, Walter Mzembi. ATA government


members elected Minister Mzembi, as the new president of the association at the ATA board


meeting on the final day of the congress.




Zimbabwe is Open for Business


On the first day of the congress, Ambassador of the USA to Zimbabwe, Charles A. Ray,

conveyed that “Zimbabwe is open for business.” He said that US business representatives were

coming to Zimbabwe because the economy was growing and trade and investment links

between the two countries were improving.

Speaking about the importance of building better cooperation and understanding between the

USA and Zimbabwe, the Ambassador said, “Zimbabwe, even with its political uncertainty,

represents a potentially huge market for Americans… it has the highest literacy rate in sub-

Saharan Africa, and a population that when opportunities are available they’re very hard

working and very organized and get things done.”

In an interview with one of the congress media delegates, Ambassador Ray said, “You have to

look at what’s going on on the ground in order to understand the reality. There is a gap between

the perceived risk here and the real risk. The real risk, in most cases, is far less than the

perceived risk caused by the image the country has.”

Building on these themes, a special congress session, featuring Ambassador Ray and U.S.

Ambassador to Zambia, Mark C. Storella, was held on the second to last day of the congress.

The two Ambassadors spoke about prospects for U.S. trade and investment in the tourism

sector in the neighboring countries, along with the role the US embassies play in improving

relations and facilitating exchanges.


Program Highlights


The Congress kicked off with ATA’s third annual

Young Professionals Program Forum

at the

Elephant Hills Hotel. Students, young professionals and industry leaders from the tourism and


hospitality sector came together to discuss the most pressing issues for young professionals in


the industry. Topics included harnessing social media to promote African tourism, rural tourism


development, and the ethics of sustainability and ecological integrity.


Ministers from Central African Republic, Ghana, Namibia, Togo and Zimbabwe participated in





Tourism Ministers’ Roundtable

. Everyone agreed that the benefits of tourism could be

strengthened if African governments collaborated more closely with each other and the private


sector over a number of issues, including connectivity, visas, branding and packaging products.


The importance of integrating local community into tourism programs was also stressed.


Inspired by the Japanese television cooking show, Iron Chef, ATA held the first “




ATA Culinary





.” Delegates enjoyed a luncheon prepared by culinary students from the Bulawayo

School of Hospitality and Tourism Studies and chefs from Victoria Falls hotels. Visiting chefs


from the USA, Chef Pierre Thiam, Senegalese cookbook author,




and Eric Simeon, E&E

Grill House Executive Chef, judged the competition, along with Ambassador Ray; Dr. Nancy


Scanlon of Florida International University; Chef Christopher Gonzo, Chief Executive of the


Zimbabwean Culinary Association; and Chef Johnson, Chief Technical Coordinator of ZTA.


Sessions on social media strategies with



RS Social

and the role of film in marketing

destinations with



Thinking Forward Media

provided participants with practical tools for more

effective media relations and marketing. An




representative discussed the importance

of bringing Africa’s products to market through social media, mobile technology, and the


Internet. A



Matador Network

representative discussed how to leverage content from dozens of

partners to create a unified strategy for promoting your destination on the Web.



Group IST


presented on the pros and cons of volun-tourism.


Delegates explored several new tourism topics at the congress, including “Women’s


Engagement in Africa’s Tourism Industry,” which brought together representatives from





Hospitality Group



, Amalinda Collection, United Nations World Tourism Organization

, and






to discuss the challenges and opportunities facing women in the tourism industry today.

Leading travel trade and mainstream media representatives explored the relationships between


tourism and the media at one of the sessions. Participants spoke about how to develop more


effective media relations and how to move travel news to the front pages. The participants


spoke about how the negative and the positive play a role in creating perceptions of Africa and


stressed the potential role of the media in communicating tourism’s contribution to development


and achieving political stability.


At Zimbabwe Culture Night, ATA announced the recipients of ATA’s annual awards. The


recipients of the Outstanding Service to the Association awards were Hon. Mzembi (MP),


Minister of Tourism and Hospitality Industry of Zimbabwe; Karikoga Kaseke; Chief Executive of


the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority (ZTA); Tesa Chikaponya, Executive Director of Destination


Marketing at ZTA; and Evelyn Chidyausiku, US Representative of ZTA. Robert Brunner, Vice


President of the Americas for Arik Air International Ltd received the Outstanding Leadership


Award; and Dr. Yohannes Zeleke, President of the ATA Mid-Atlantic Chapter, received the ATA


Founder’s Award. Chef Pierre Thiam and Chef Eric Simeon received the Development of


Responsible Tourism in Africa awards and ATA outgoing President, Hon. Fatou Mas Jobe-Njie,


Minister of Tourism and Culture of The Gambia, received the Promotion of Responsible Tourism


to Africa Award. Finally, Andrea Papitto, Vice President of Thinking Forward Media, received the


Young Professionals Leadership award.



Showcasing Destination Zimbabwe


As soon as they arrived in Victoria Falls, delegates enjoyed a tour of Victoria Falls, one of the

world’s seven wonders. Many also participated in activities around the falls, including bungee

jumping, gorge swing and ziplining over the Zambezi, lion and elephant encounters, helicopter

rides and safaris in Zimbabwe and Botswana during the congress.

On the first host-country day, ATA delegates visited a community-based tourism project in







, where they enjoyed local cuisine, traditional music and dance. En route to the village,

delegates participated in the annual ATA tree planting ceremony to offset the carbon footprint of


the congress.





Zambia Tourist Board

co-sponsored the second host-country day. Delegates crossed the

Zambezi River into Livingstone for lunch and cultural entertainment. They also visited several


hotel properties, including the



Chrismar and Royal Livingstone hotels, and toured the


Livingstone Express




, a luxury rail experience. The day wrapped up in Zimbabwe with a sunset

river cruise on the Zambezi.


During the congress, delegates also enjoyed two special evening events. Sponsored by




Rainbow Tourism Group



, the first was a cocktail reception with live music and food at the


A’Zambezi River Lodge



. The next was held at The Boma Restaurant at the

Victoria Falls

Safari Lodge



, hosted by Africa Albida Tourism

. ATA delegates also celebrated with over one

thousand music fans at an outdoor concert with one of Zimbabwe’s most revered musicians,




Oliver “Tuku” Mtukudzi




ATA’s young professionals hosted the third annual “Celebrate Africa Social Night,” a time for the


delegates to enjoy Zimbabwean music, cuisine and dancing and culture. The night began with a


traditional braai dinner in the garden of The Kingdom Hotel, followed by dancing at The Wild


Thing Action Bar. At a press conference during the congress, Karikoga Kaseke, Chief Executive


of the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority (ZTA), announced that Zimbabwe will form an ATA Young


Professionals chapter to “…advance the interests of our young professionals in the industry.”



Congress Sponsors


South African Airways



, Presenting Sponsor and Official Airline of the 2012 ATA World

Congress, organized special discounts for delegates attending the Congress.


Arik Air


as Official Media Carrier of the World Congress. Media sponsors included Afrique Expansion, ETurbo


News, RS Social, and Travel World News.


ATA, in partnership with Arik Air and ZTA, organized a diverse media delegation, including


representatives from, Afrique Expansion, Bloomberg Business, Essence Magazine,


Jax Fax, Matador Network, Network Journal, Ogo Sow Communications, RS Social, Travel


World News, and VOA News. E-Turbo News also covered the event.


Most delegates stayed at the official congress venue in Victoria Falls,



Elephant Hills Resort


along with Adventure Zone Lodge, The Kingdom Hotel, Victoria Falls Safari Lodge, Victoria


Falls Hotel, Victoria Falls Rainbow Hotel and the A’Zambezi River Lodge.




Editor’s Note


For more information on ATA, visit


For more information on Zimbabwe, visit


For congress photos, visit ATA’s


For congress videos, visit

For congress blog, visit



For the program, visit


For copies of presentations and speeches, contact ATA at


For interview opportunities contact ATA by phone at +1-212-447-1357 or via email at






About the Africa Travel Association (ATA)


The Africa Travel Association (ATA) is the leading global trade association promoting travel and

tourism to Africa and strengthening intra-Africa partnerships. Established in 1975, ATA serves

both the public and private sectors of the international travel and tourism industry. ATA

membership comprises African governments, their tourism ministers, tourism bureaus and

boards, airlines, cruise lines, hotels, resorts, front-line travel sellers and providers, tour

operators and travel agents, and affiliate industries. ATA partners with the African Union

Commission (AU) to promote the sustainable development of tourism to and across Africa.

ATA’s annual events bring together industry leaders to shape Africa’s tourism agenda. For more

information about ATA, visit







Single Post Navigation

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: