Namibia hosts youth in tourism innovation summit

THE Namibian government hosted the sixth Africa Youth in Tourism Innovation Summit and Challenge in the capital city of Windhoek.

The summit, which started on Tuesday, highlighted the importance of youth innovation and entrepreneurship in tourism development across Africa.

The event was opened by a keynote address from deputy minister of sport, youth and national service Emma Kantema-Gaomas, who praised the dedication of the Namibian government prioritising the needs of young people.

“This gathering is a testament to the dedication of the government of Namibia, through the Ministry of Environment, Forestry and Tourism and various partners, that investment in youth is both a moral imperative and an economic necessity,” Kantema-Gaomas said.

She said tourism is a crucial sector for Africa, offering significant opportunities for economic growth, cultural exchange and sustainable development.

The summit acknowledged the challenges faced by youth in tourism, such as access to industry education, training and resources.

The summit is expected to contribute to the development of a more skilled and innovative tourism workforce in Africa.

“The gathering underscores the importance of developing actionable solutions to propel Africa’s tourism industry forward and key focus areas include travel technology, tourism innovation and youth employability,” Kantema-Gaomas added.

She acknowledged the persistent challenges young people face.

The African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) serves as a platform to bridge this gap by fostering partnerships and knowledge exchange between young innovators, industry leaders and stakeholders.

Kantema-Gaomas said the summit aligns with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals on decent work and economic growth, as well as goals focused on innovation and infrastructure development.

“By reducing trade barriers and fostering a more integrated market, the AfCFTA presents an unprecedented opportunity for young Africans to expand their businesses, collaborate across borders, and access new markets. This economic integration is expected to not only boost growth but also promote cultural exchange and unity across the continent,” Kantema-Gaomas said.

She said the summit’s focus on youth leadership reflects a growing recognition of the immense potential young Africans hold, and by equipping them with the necessary tools and resources, the summit can play a crucial role in shaping a more prosperous and sustainable future for African tourism.

“As I conclude, let us all remember that our collective efforts today will shape the future we desire. Let’s commit to taking bold steps and driving sustainable change. Our journey does not end here; it is only the beginning,” Kantema-Gaomas said.

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