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UNWTO, Google host first Tourism Acceleration Program in Sub-Saharan Africa

Advancing digitisation will be key to adapting to the new tourism environment

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UNWTO and Google

The COVID-19 crisis has disproportionately affected tourism, a sector that accounts for millions of jobs around the globe.

While no one can say with certainty when the sector will recover, people are starting to dream of getaways again – whether closer to home or to remote destinations.

As more and more people go online to search where and when they can travel, accelerating the digitisation of the tourism sector will be key to helping it adapt and recover.

This is why the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) and Google have partnered to create and host an online Acceleration Program for UNWTO Member States’ tourism ministers, top travel associations and tourism boards to further develop innovation and digital transformation skills.

Today, ahead of World Tourism Day, the organisations hosted the first UNWTO & Google Tourism Acceleration Program focused on insights from Nigeria, Kenya and South Africa.

UNWTO

Source: Google trends data 2018 – August 2020

Tourism is the backbone of many economies around the world. As data from UNWTO shows, tourism represents 9% of global trade for Africa and 1 in 10 jobs directly and indirectly.

Moreover, the sector drives inclusive growth, as women make up 54% of the workforce.

“UNWTO is committed to helping Africa grow back stronger,” says the UNWTO Director of Innovation, Digital Transformation and Investments, Natalia Bayona. “With the right policies, training and management in place, innovation and technology have the potential to foster new and better jobs and business opportunities for tourism in Africa while improving the overall wellbeing and prosperity of the region”.

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Africa is home to 30% of the world’s population, adding hundreds of millions of new online users every year. Google Search is one of the places Africans go when researching and booking travel.

“We’re here to help the tourism sector recover from this unprecedented crisis and emerge stronger. Our travel data insights and tools can help tourism authorities identify and understand the barriers and drivers to visit travel destinations for better tourism planning,” says Doron Avni, Google’s Director of Government Affairs and Public Policy for Emerging Markets.

Below are some of the Nigeria travel data insights shared with participants in today’s session:

Nigeria

Since Nigeria announced its intention to reopen its borders to international travel on August 29th, search interest for travel has grown.

UNWTO and Google

Source: Google internal search trends data 2018 – August 2020

This slowdown presents an opportunity to rethink tourism, innovate and further develop the digital transformation of the sector so it can build the foundations for future sustainable growth.

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