By Byron Mutingwende
Since the tourism sector is one of the leading industries in creating jobs to alleviate poverty, there are growing calls for youth participation in the sector.
The Zimbabwe Youth in Tourism will host the Africa Youth in Tourism Conference in Bulawayo at the Zimbabwe International Trade Fair from 6 to 9 September 2017.
“The Africa Youth in Tourism Conference dubbed AYIT 2017, is a meeting point for youths in tourism from all over Africa, potential investors and stakeholders in tourism. The theme of the conference is: The role of youths in sustainable development,” said Auxilia Mnangagwa, the patron of the AYIT 2017 at a press briefing held in Harare on 10 July 2017.
Mnangagwa said there were interesting indications to the fact that the youths account for a big percentage of tourists the world over, hence the need to tap into the demographic dividend that can be harnessed through investing in youths.
“The United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) notes that globally, youth tourism numbers are increasing and it is predicted that by 2020 almost 190 million international youths will be visiting areas of interest, while the number will go up to 300 million after the year 2020,” Mnangagwa said.
In that regard, she urged to the youths to rise to the occasion as tourism operators and players in the growing industry. The African Union has declared 2017 as the year of “Harnessing the Demographic Dividend through Investments in Youths.”
The conference will afford the youths the opportunity to exchange notes, listen to tourism gurus in Africa, deliberate on difficulties found in the industry and unpack opportunities in the sector for youth development in fulfilling the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the AU Agenda 2063 among other objectives.
Stewart Mutizwa, the President of the Zimbabwe Youths in Tourism appealed for funding from funding from stakeholders to make the conference a resounding success.
Walter Mzembi, the Minister of Tourism and Hospitality Industry threw his weight in support of the initiative since the programme is meant to attract international conferences into the country under the Meetings, Incentives, Conferences and Exhibitions (MICE) programme.
Mzembi added that his ministry had embarked on several programmes meant to empower youths in the sector. The “Enhancing Participation of Youth and Women in the Tourism Sector” done in collaboration between the ministry of tourism and UNWTO is meant to build the capacities of youths (16-35 years) to make a career in the tourism industry and strengthen the capacity of small to medium enterprises involved in tourism in Victoria Falls.
“The Ministry is also taking a proactive role in the development and promotion of Community Based Tourism Enterprises with the overall objective of empowering the unemployed youth and women in different communities,” Mzembi said.