By Rotimi Ijikanmi
Tourism Ministers from Africa have agreed to speak with one voice to let the world know that the continent is being unfairly treated in the area of COVID-19 Vaccines distribution.
The ministers reached the consensus at a meeting in Sal Island, Cape Verde to ratify the agenda for their 64th Conference of United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) Commission for Africa.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Alhaji Lai Mohammed, the Minister of Information and Culture is leading Nigeria delegation to the conference which opens today.
Speaking with NAN after the closed door meeting, Mohammed said they discussed the agenda for the conference as well as the UNWTO Global Tourism Investment Forum.
“The good thing is that while we are going through the discussion, we realised that certain issues are not in the agenda but which are critical to sustain tourism in Africa.
“Of particular, is the issue of COVID-19 Vaccines.
“It was the consensus of all the African ministers present at the meeting that we need to speak with one voice and let the world know that they are being unfair to Africa, especially in the area of vaccines.
“While other parts of the world including Europe and the U.S. are thinking of the third vaccine, which is the booster vaccine, most countries in Africa are yet to attain five per cent vaccination of their population,’’ he said.
The minister said the issue of connectivity among African countries was also raised and set for plenary at the conference.
He said the concern on connectivity was raised because it took many delegations across the continent three to four days to travel from their countries to Sal Island for the meeting.
“In our case, we started from Lagos to Dakar on Monday and we have to sleep in Dakar.
“From Dakar we moved to Praia and we have to sleep there before we managed to get to Sal on Wednesday.
“The stories of other colleagues were even worse.
“Those who came from Central Africa Republic had to go to Togo first and moved to Dakar and to Praia before getting to Sal Island.
“We resolved that the issue of connectivity must be addressed and we must work toward making connectivity to be easy within the African continent in order to attract tourists,’’ he said.
Mohammed said the meeting also discussed and ratified the issue Travel Advisory as one of the agenda for the conference.
He said the ministers underscored the need for the developed world to reconsider the way they issue travel advisory on African countries.
“Whenever there is a small issue in Africa, the developed world would issue travel advisory warning people not to travel to such countries.
“ Whereas, when bigger and more dangerous issues occur in either Europe or America, nobody bother to issue any advisory,’’ he said.
Mohammed said they agreed to address the issue so that travel advisory would be issued consciously not to exaggerate and aggravate problems. (NAN)