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ECOWAS collaborates with Member States towards a harmonised regional tourism sector

The ECOWAS Directorate of Private Sector has convened experts and stakeholders from both the private and government sectors of the tourism industry for a five-day meeting in Abuja, Nigeria.

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The focus of the meeting is on the monitoring and evaluation mechanisms for ECOTOUR 19-29 and the ECOWAS Tourism Accommodation Regulator, aiming to optimise resource utilisation and enhance operational efficiency.

At the technical meeting, participants will draft the operational texts for these mechanisms, establish the structure and modalities for their operation, and develop the monitoring and evaluation processes.

Additionally, the meeting will support private sector participants in finalising the creation of a regional confederation and prepare for the upcoming ECOWAS 1st Scientific Forum on Intra-Regional Tourism.

The Director General of the National Tourism Agency of Nigeria, Mr. Folorunsho Coker, called for the localisation of policies taking into consideration the ethnic, cultural and religious diversity of the region, which are very crucial to the successful growth of regional tourism and solidify West African cultural heritage. 

"This is the season for collaboration, not competition, for joint marketing campaigns rather than individual ones. From our hotels to our airlines to our regional tourism assets, we must work together," he said. "It is through this spirit of collaboration that we will grow pan-African tourism."

Mr. Coker also urged both state and non-state actors work together to harmonize tourism regulations to provide guidelines for all activities in the sector. He emphasized the importance of introducing technology in tourism and training operators to compete globally. "We must embrace technology, or it will leave us behind," he said.

The Acting Director of Private Sector, Mr. Anthony Luka Elumelu, speaking on behalf of Madame Massandjé Toure-Liste, the Commissioner for Economic Affairs and Agriculture, stated that the meeting drew inspiration from the ECOTOUR 19-29 action plan. This plan, adopted by the Authority of Heads of State and Government, was designed to serve as a roadmap for promoting responsible tourism.

He said, "Our technical meeting today focuses on drafting the operational modalities for two critical tools: the ECOTOUR 19-29 monitoring and evaluation mechanism and the ECOWAS Tourism Accommodation Regulator (ETAR). This will involve developing operational guidelines and appointing dedicated members or focal points to oversee their implementation.

Simultaneously, the ETAR will define its composition and operational modalities in alignment with Regulation C.REG.2/07/23. We are also prioritising private sector collaboration by facilitating dialogue among tourism representatives and encouraging strategic alignment and cooperation at the regional level. Our goal is to support private sector players in finalising the creation of a regional confederation, he added.

The private tourism sector includes tour operators, travel agencies, hoteliers, restaurateurs, tour guides, and other related service providers. 

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