MAU­RI­TIUS

HOLDS AFRICA’S FIRST IN­TER­NA­TIONAL CON­FER­ENCE ON DIG­I­TAL­I­SA­TION AND SUS­TAIN­ABLE TOURISM

Nomad Africa Magazine - - Tourism Updates - Words: DI­ETER GÖTTERT

The first In­ter­na­tional Con­fer­ence on Dig­i­tal­i­sa­tion and Sus­tain­able Tourism was re­cently held at the Le Méri­dien Ho­tel, Pointe aux Pi­ments, in Mau­ri­tius. The 2-day high pro­file event at­tracted de­ci­sion-mak­ers and stake­hold­ers from all spheres within the tourism industry in­ter­na­tion­ally in­clud­ing a num­ber of African coun­tries, and was hosted by the Mau­ri­tius Min­istry of Tourism with well over 400 del­e­gates in at­ten­dance.

t ourism is a ma­jor source of in­come glob­ally, es­pe­cially for smaller coun­tries that have a rich di­ver­sity of of­fer­ings for in­ter­na­tional trav­ellers, yet cur­rent is­sues of cli­mate change, sus­tain­abil­ity and dig­i­tal­i­sa­tion to­gether with su­per rapid progress in the data and in­for­ma­tion tech­nol­ogy sec­tors are ex­ert­ing a pro­found im­pact on tourism world­wide. The con­fer­ence pro­vided an ideal plat­form for in­vited ex­perts to share their views and in­sight in terms of bal­anc­ing and paving the way for­ward in a dig­i­tal age, where all global tourism stake­hold­ers will be able to har­ness op­por­tu­ni­ties, while sus­tain­ing the tourism industry into the fu­ture. Of­fi­cially opened by Mau­ri­tian Prime Min­ster Pravind Jug­nauth, in the pres­ence of no­table VIP guests such as Pres­i­dent Di­dier Robert of Re­union, Cather­ine Abelema Afeku - Min­is­ter of Tourism, Arts & Cul­ture of Ghana, Adil Hamid Da­glo Mussa of the Repub­lic of Su­dan; Richard Via of Mada­gas­car, Feki­ta­moeloa Utoika­manu - the United Na­tions Un­der Sec­re­tary-Gen­eral and High Rep­re­sen­ta­tive of the Least De­vel­oped Coun­tries, Dr Dirk Glaesser of the UNWTO, Alain St.Ange - for­mer Sey­chelles Min­is­ter of Tourism, Pas­cal Viroleau - CEO of the Vanilla Is­lands, and the Mau­ri­tian Min­is­ter of Tourism, Mr Anil Gayan. The con­fer­ence of­fered a very im­pres­sive line-up of ex­pert speak­ers, with the first ple­nary ses­sion and key­note ad­dress by Pro­fes­sor Ge­of­frey Lip­man, Pres­i­dent of the In­ter­na­tional Coali­tion of Tourism part­ners. In an ex­clu­sive in­ter­view with No­mad Africa Mag­a­zine, Pro­fes­sor Lip­man em­pha­sised and heeded the call for cli­mate change aware­ness and what needs to be done about the these chal­lenges: “In my pre­sen­ta­tion, I was try­ing to bring to this au­di­ence the re­al­i­ties of what cli­mate change means for our world. The trends are very clear and we have been putting a blan­ket of car­bon around the world in sim­ple terms, and the con­se­quence of that is that it is chang­ing our weather pat­terns.” “We are see­ing more hur­ri­canes, more flood­ing, more heat waves. We are ac­tu­ally see­ing dis­rup­tion and what is clear is that it is go­ing to be more and more in­tense and ir­reg­u­lar and the con­se­quence of that is that we have prob­lems with wa­ter and food pro­duc­tion.” Pro­fes­sor Lip­man also em­pha­sised an ur­gent need for co-op­er­a­tion and ad­her­ence to the Paris Agree­ment, which aims to achieve the long-term goals of global green­house gas emis­sions mit­i­ga­tion, adap­ta­tion to hope­fully curb the in­crease the global av­er­age tem­per­a­ture to well be­low 2°C above of pre-in­dus­trial lev­els by sig­nif­i­cantly re­duc­ing risks and the im­pacts of cli­mate change. “With all the long-term frame­work tar­gets in place, over time we will be able to mod­er­ate the re­duc­tions of car­bon around the world – we can­not stop it, but we can mod­er­ate it. To do that, we have to change our pat­terns of con­sump­tion and pro­duc­tion. We have 30 to 40 years to do it, but we have to start now.” “What is sig­nif­i­cant is that be­tween 5 and 8 % of car­bon emis­sions come from tourism – the way that we use en­ergy, the waste we pro­duce and the pat­terns of travel that we cre­ate.” In terms of be­ing sus­tain­able in a dig­i­tal age, what does it mean? “We are ar­gu­ing that there should be a new move­ment called Im­pact Travel. Un­til now, we have been pro­mot­ing travel as be­ing some­thing that is only do­ing good, but in the last 5-10 years we have come to un­der­stand the neg­a­tive side – good im­pact and bad im­pact.” Pro­fes­sor Lip­man says, ”It is a dis­rup­tion be­cause des­ti­na­tions are be­com­ing more im­por­tant than travel and trav­ellers them­selves be­cause when the tourists go home, the

des­ti­na­tions are still there and they are left to deal with the con­se­quences and how they af­fect their life­styles.” Ac­cord­ing to Pro­fes­sor Lip­man, tourism is “a growing and sub­stan­tive part of all economies of all coun­tries in the world. Ev­ery coun­try has the ca­pac­ity to be an ex­porter of their own prod­uct.” “We know it’s a par­tic­u­larly good thing for small is­land states and coun­tries, and we can make tourism a dis­ci­pline in schools be­cause up un­til now, tourism is re­garded as a sub sec­tion of ge­og­ra­phy. Even at uni­ver­si­ties, there is a lim­ited amount of ed­u­ca­tion around travel”. “Tourism has not been put to­gether in a com­pre­hen­sive fash­ion and there­fore we think that there is huge scope around the world for bring­ing the con­cept of Im­pact Travel into our ed­u­ca­tion sys­tems.” Pro­fes­sor Lip­man con­cluded that if the tourism industry is to meet the demands of the mod­ern world, it has to “prove its sus­tain­abil­ity and the chal­lenge of car­bon emis­sions has to be put on top of the pri­or­ity list.” Very in­sight­ful words by one of the world’s lead­ing ex­perts and a for­mer top ex­ec­u­tive of IATA (In­ter­na­tional Air Trans­port As­so­ci­a­tion), WTTC (World Travel & Tourism Coun­cil), WTO (World Trade Or­ga­ni­za­tion) and cur­rent pres­i­dent of ICTP (in­ter­na­tional Coun­cil of Tourism Part­ners) and the Green Growth Trav­elism In­sti­tute. No­mad Africa Mag­a­zine spoke to the Mau­ri­tian Min­is­ter of Tourism, Mr Anil Gayan SC, who ex­plained the im­pli­ca­tions of dig­i­tal­i­sa­tion and the col­lect­ing data in terms of it af­fect­ing the tourism sec­tor. “I per­son­ally have learnt a lot, I am sure that all those who at­tended this con­fer­ence will look at dig­i­tal­i­sa­tion in a dif­fer­ent way, not only at what it can do to im­prove the industry and our daily life, but also the dan­gers that dig­i­tal­i­sa­tion can bring.” “There are a few trends world­wide to­wards dig­i­tal­i­sa­tion on a mas­sive scale such as the im­pact of China on the tourism mar­ket, where mil­lions of book­ings for tourism are made on a mo­bile tele­phone, the enor­mous col­lec­tion of per­sonal data, as well as the im­ple­men­ta­tion of The EU Gen­eral Data Pro­tec­tion Reg­u­la­tion on 25 May 2018.” Mr Gayan also em­pha­sised the very im­por­tant need for pri­vacy data pro­tec­tion reg­u­la­tions and how this will af­fect tourists. The dis­sem­i­na­tion of such data is a sen­si­tive is­sue, which stake­hold­ers will need to nav­i­gate through within the con­text of dig­i­tal­i­sa­tion and how they con­duct their busi­ness. “All these are is­sues that prompted us to have this con­fer­ence so that all stake­hold­ers in the industry will be aware of what is in­volved and to pre­vent any mishaps in the han­dling of per­sonal data. We think that our oper­a­tors need to know all the im­pli­ca­tions of what is hap­pen­ing in the world.” “I want to make it very clear that we are very con­cerned that there should be no at­tempt of any kind on the pri­vacy of an in­di­vid­ual. We need to pro­tect the pri­vacy of the in­di­vid­ual, but of course, as mod­ern life goes on, there will be a lot of per­sonal data that will be col­lected. We can­not get out of the sys­tem but whether, - we get out of the sys­tem or not, and since we have no choice but to be in the sys­tem, we need to have an en­vi­ron­ment, where we can pro­tect per­sonal data. If data is go­ing to used, we have to make sure it is go­ing to be used with the con­sent of the per­son and that the per­son

al­ways has con­trol over what­ever per­sonal data of his or hers is in the cus­tody or un­der the con­trol of an op­er­a­tor in the tourism industry.” In terms of Mau­ri­tius be­ing tech­nol­ogy ready, Mr Gayan went on to ex­plain that al­though Mau­ri­tius is a small is­land, in­ter­net, com­puter lit­er­acy and in­for­ma­tion tech­nol­ogy are al­ready im­ple­mented at pri­mary school level. He said: “We have, as part of our gov­ern­ment pro­gramme, fo­cused on in­for­ma­tion tech­nol­ogy as one of the great movers of the econ­omy in the years to come.” “Mau­ri­tius has no nat­u­ral re­sources, so we need to look for ser­vices that will bring value ad­di­tions in what­ever we do. Our work­force leans to­wards the IT sec­tor, but there are things hap­pen­ing glob­ally, which we have no con­trol over, and of which we need to be aware of so that we can at least catch up and take the lead in our part of the world.” The con­fer­ence was also ground break­ing in terms of pro­vid­ing a plat­form for those coun­tries that still need to get on the dig­i­tal high speed train in a man­ner of speak­ing. Mrs Gbian Moukaila, Tech­ni­cal Ad­vi­sor to the Min­istry of Tourism, Cul­ture & Sport of République du Bénin said: “Dig­i­tal­i­sa­tion is a trend that will be­come a nor­mal way of do­ing busi­ness in tourism. Peo­ple are shift­ing away from hu­man con­tact and travel agen­cies.”

“Tourism in Bénin is in its in­fancy, so be­ing here at this event gives us a broader perspective on the way tourism is pro­gress­ing in the world. We will take ev­ery­thing that we have learnt here and im­ple­ment it in Bénin. Not long ago, we ob­tained the dig­i­tal code for our coun­try and we are one of the few coun­tries in West Africa that has this. This will en­able us to use dig­i­tal­i­sa­tion in tourism and this is the rea­son why I have come here, to take ad­van­tage of the ex­pe­ri­ence of Mau­ri­tius and all other par­tic­i­pants of this con­fer­ence.” “Al­though tourism is not some­thing new in

Mau­ri­tius has no nat­u­ral re­sources, so we need to look for ser­vices that will bring value ad­di­tions in what­ever we do. Our work­force leans to­wards the IT sec­tor, but there are things hap­pen­ing glob­ally, which we have no con­trol over, and which we need to be aware of so that we can at least catch up and take the lead in our part of the world.” - Mr Anil Gayan, SC – Min­is­ter of Tourism, Mau­ri­tius.

Bénin, gov­ern­ment ac­tion to­wards tourism has been in­creased by our new pres­i­dent. The au­thor­i­ties do un­der­stand that tourism can in­crease our stan­dard of liv­ing, our econ­omy and the well-be­ing of the pop­u­la­tion” Mrs Moukaila told No­mad Africa Mag­a­zine that since be­ing elected 2 years ago, Béni­nese Pres­i­dent Patrice Talon has been very pro­gres­sive in recog­nis­ing that the tourism sec­tor needs to be ex­panded. Cul­tural tourism of­fers his­tor­i­cal el­e­ments of slav­ery and vo­dun re­li­gious prac­tises, which fea­ture very promi­nently in Béni­nese so­ci­ety. Roads, as well as new in­fra­struc­ture and mu­se­ums are be­ing built to cater for an ex­pected up­surge of tourism in the fu­ture. The min­is­ter of Tourism, Arts & Cul­ture of the Repub­lic of Ghana, Cather­ine Afeku, said the con­fer­ence was “very in­for­ma­tive and an eye opener. “Look­ing at what they were shar­ing at the con­fer­ence, and how ICT rev­o­lu­tionised the fu­ture of tourism, I am walk­ing away with a sense of op­ti­mism. A new gen­er­a­tion is ac­tu­ally go­ing to make tourism more ro­bust and more ex­po­nen­tial. I would like to use the word ex­plo­sive for Africa.”

The min­is­ter said this is all the more rel­e­vant since Ghana is emerg­ing as a tourist des­ti­na­tion. “The new gov­ern­ment that has come into of­fice has seen the po­ten­tial of tourism as a tan­gi­ble prod­uct that will out­live re­ces­sion. With the younger gen­er­a­tion and mid­dle in­come spend­ing power that is com­ing into the con­ti­nent (Africa), we see tourism as a vi­able eco­nomic growth curve and if we put re­sources into it, it can and it is al­ready gen­er­at­ing jobs. It is a pol­icy and a sec­tor with a lot of fo­cus now by the cur­rent gov­ern­ment.” Ad­dress­ing dig­i­tal­i­sa­tion, the con­fer­ence achieved var­i­ous ob­jec­tives, specif­i­cally also launch­ing an ap­peal to cre­ate a Work­ing Group on Dig­i­tal Plat­forms aimed at “iden­ti­fy­ing, analysing and propos­ing a bal­anced

Tourism in Bénin is in its in­fancy, so be­ing here at this event gives us a broader perspective on the way tourism is pro­gress­ing in the world. We will take ev­ery­thing that we have learnt here and im­ple­ment it in Bénin. Not long ago, we ob­tained the dig­i­tal code for our coun­try and we are one of the few coun­tries in West Africa that has this. This will en­able us to use dig­i­tal­i­sa­tion in tourism and this is the rea­son why I have come here, to take ad­van­tage of the ex­pe­ri­ence of Mau­ri­tius and all other par­tic­i­pants of this con­fer­ence.” - Mrs Gbian Moukaila, Tech­ni­cal Ad­vi­sor to the Min­istry of Tourism, Cul­ture & Sport of the République du Bénin

ap­proach, ex­chang­ing best prac­tices and help­ing in de­vel­op­ing reg­u­la­tory frame­work and poli­cies to cre­ate a level play­ing field for tourism ser­vice sup­pli­ers”. What this means is that dig­i­tal­i­sa­tion will be key in how the tourism industry con­ducts it­self, in­so­far that all stake­hold­ers will have to even­tu­ally tran­si­tion them­selves into a dig­i­tal en­vi­ron­ment. It is not a ques­tion of if, but of how best can this be achieved within a new gi­gan­tic dig­i­tal ma­trix that needs to be care­fully man­aged and steered well into the fu­ture by all. It was also very sig­nif­i­cant and no­table that the con­fer­ence re­solved “to en­sure com­pli­ance with the Gen­eral Data Pro­tec­tion Reg­u­la­tion of the Euro­pean Union” and that the “Travel and Tourism Industry shall take proper steps in col­lect­ing con­sumers’ data with their ex­plicit con­sent and pro­tect­ing same dur­ing any trans­fer from Europe to any coun­tries”. This is seen as be­ing very im­por­tant in abid­ing and sup­port­ing the trends that were al­ready in­ves­ti­gated and adopted a while ago by the EU whose coun­tries are now hav­ing to co-op­er­ate on a grand scale dig­i­tally with re­gard to ser­vic­ing the tourism industry. The Mau­ri­tius con­fer­ence on Dig­i­tal­i­sa­tion and Sus­tain­able Tourism cer­tainly has paved the way for­ward in a very pos­i­tive and op­ti­mistic man­ner for in­ter­na­tional del­e­gates and specif­i­cally African coun­tries to go back to their coun­tries and lay the ground­work and plug-in mech­a­nisms that will ul­ti­mately se­cure their own tourism sec­tors into the fu­ture.

Up Above: Mau­ri­tian Prime Min­ster Pravind Jug­nauth of­fi­cially open­ing the con­fer­ence. Left: Pres­i­dent of the In­ter­na­tional Coali­tion of Tourism part­ners – Pro­fes­sor Ge­of­frey Lip­man, de­liv­er­ing his key­note ad­dress at the con­fer­ence. Right: At the con­fer­ence from left to right: Dr Dirk Glaesser – UNWTO, Pres­i­dent Di­dier Robert – La Re­union, Mr Anil Gayan, SC – Min­is­ter of Tourism Mau­ri­tius, Alain St.Ange – for­mer Min­is­ter of Tourism Sey­chelles Prime Min­ster Pravind Jug­nauth of Mau­ri­tius.

Up Above: L-R; Pro­fes­sor Ge­of­frey Lip­man – Key­note Speaker & Pres­i­dent of In­ter­na­tion Coali­tion of Tourism Part­ners (ICTP) & Green Growth Trav­elism In­sti­tute, Min­is­ter of Tourism Mau­ri­tius - Mr Anil Gayan and Dr Dirk Glaesser – Director of Sus­tain­able Tourism of Tourism pro­gramme UNWTO. Left: Prime Min­is­ter Pravind Jug­nauth speak­ing to Sene­galese Tourism Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Mr Ba Babacar at the con­fer­ence. Right: Mr Ju­lian Moun­tain – Speaker/ Com­mer­cial Director Last­minute.com Group.

The beau­ti­ful is­land of Mau­ri­tius is a safe year round des­ti­na­tion with beau­ti­ful beaches, warm sun­shine and out­stand­ing ser­vice.

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