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By R.S. Mracky ATA Member since 1982

ATA - Africa’s Tourism NGO

The Backdrop

Post-colonialism tourism in the 1960's and 1970's was not leisure tourism, as we know it today. Setting up the Africa Travel Association In 1975, the Africa Travel Association (ATA) was established as an international non-profit, non-political, educational trade organization in New York by a group of travel and airline executives. The group was headed by a travel agent from Brighton Beach New York named Murray Vidockler, who saw the need to help the young African nations with shaping their tourism capabilities and building their credentials. ATA helped them establish National Tourist Boards, providing a forum for the learning and professional development of Africa travel agents and tour operators knowledge, and helping establish incoming operators in Africa. ATA invests in Africa’s tourism, bringing international industry updates to incoming tour operators and small-scale tourism businesses in North America and around the world with networking events, educational seminars, and most importantly consumer and travel trade shows. In the U.S. alone, over a quarter million prospect tourists are exposed to the Africa tourism assets face-to-face by ATA members. With the U.S, Canadian and the world press/media, ATA works to expound the good side of Africa news, and to report on the development of tourism projects and destinations. The primary objectives of ATA are to promote the tourism attractions of the African continent and to educate travel agents, meeting and conference planners and incentive companies about products and services offered by Africa’s tourism industry, plus help identify new tourism products and destinations for the benefit of the local populations and the international travel industry. Bringing ATA to Africa – The Multiplier Effect ATA’s economic contribution to Africa is profound. From practically no contribution by international tourism to the African economies in 1975, the present international tourism contribution to Africa surpasses the combined total of tourism to the Caribbean, Central and South America. So, a typical ATA client spends $50 on souvenirs during their Africa visit; this money goes directly into the local economy. When multiplied, it becomes $150 or more—much more than most individual charitable donations that are made to Africa. That means that each African trip sold in the U.S. and elsewhere generates person-to-person economic growth. The Value of ATA Here are some additional reasons why ATA is important: Established in 1975, ATA become the first Africa-specific professional travel and tourism association. Since then, ATA’s marketing programs have created global awareness of Destinations and the continent’s product diversity. They have also helped many African-based incoming operators to become international tour companies. ATA introduced travel and tourism conferences to Africa with the first-ever Africa International Tourism Congress in 1976 where professionals were able to meet and discuss tourism with a large percentage of the new countries and their Ministers. 34 years later, ATA just completed its 35th Congress in The Gambia with 300 attending delegates (40% international and 60% Africa-based), with a full mix of government and private sector professionals, including representatives of the African Union (AU), UN World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) and the World Bank. ATA Congresses are not “sales events” they are policy and agenda-shaping meetings where professionals network to create the face-to-face relationships that the international tourism industry depends and is based upon. Since 1975, ATA through its membership have encouraged and mobilized major international tour operators to include Africa in their product offerings – from Nile cruises to West Africa’s heritage credentials. ATA has helped many travel agent and travel agency members grow into some of today’s major Africa tour operators in North America. The same can be said with airlines, cruise lines and major international hotel chains. In 1992, at its 25th Congress, ATA had the Ministers of 24 countries adopted Africa's Eco-Tourism Manifesto which established the eco-tourism basis for Africa destination travel and operators. ATA is an industry partner in the “Green Globe” program of the World Travel Organization (WTO) and has been the primary force in having the Africa tourism industry and their governments adopt sustainable tourism policies. ATA is the only tourism organization that has Africa’s Ministers of Tourism on its Board of Directors and serving as Presidents of the Association. During South Africa’s apartheid rule a quandary over the importance of tourism as an economic and political tool supported by the regime developed. As a member of WTO, which dropped South Africa as a member, and in light of the 1986 US Comprehensive Anti-Apartheid Act, the ATA Board moved to discontinue South Africa’s ATA membership. ATA formally supported the anti-apartheid efforts. The core ATA members stopped selling South Africa as a destination, including the new country of Bophuthatswana, devised by the apartheid regime to bypass the international travel embargo. The ATA action measurably helped to turn the economic and political tide and bring freedom to South Africa. It has been this ATA Board action that has made some in the travel industry place the “political” label on ATA, a label that ATA is proud to carry. At ATA's 17th Annual International Congress, held in Abidjan, Code d'Ivoire, the ATA board of directors approved a resolution "to delete a provision within the qualifications for membership that had precluded the membership of South Africa" with ATA's President noting: "We are pleased to adopt initiatives that will forge new ties between South Africa, now undergoing sweeping changes, and to welcome this major country into the exciting world of African Tourism”. ATA's participation in all the major North American consumer travel shows means that ATA members can reach over quarter million Africa travel prospects, providing unprecedented exposure to Africa destinations and ATA Africa members. ATA is the only Africa-focused organization spanning the three important sectors in Africa’s economic development - the governments, the private sector and civil society. It hosts the now labeled “important” Presidential Forums on Tourism in New York. This meeting has put tourism on the agendas of Africa’s Heads of States when they attend the annual UN General Assembly meetings. In 2010, more than 300 participants attended the Forum with ten African leaders. To promote investments and financial support for tourism in Africa and to advocate for tourism to Africa, ATA inaugurated in 2008 yearly Washington D.C. symposia that attracts the World Bank, IMF, and the important elements of the U.S. government, as well as the international investment community. And, finally, ATA’s work and accomplishments since 1975 with many African governments has led the African Union (AU), the government body of 54 African nations, to form an AU/ATA alliance for the growth and promotion of tourism to Africa, making ATA the principal and official driving force in Africa’s tourism development. The idea here is that regions around the world have established effective regional tourism bodies, like the Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) for Asia and the Caribbean Tourism Organization for the Caribbean. The Africa Travel Association serves as the global tourism body representing the tourism development and world presence of the Continent of Africa.


Did you know?

The world's second-largest continent after Asia, Africa is attached to Asia at its northeast Sinai corner by the 70-km wide Suez Canal

There are 54 countries in Africa, and a couple of disputed territories ( Western Sahara, Somaliland and Sahrawi Republic). 48 states are on the continent itself, while six are island nations>

Sudan is the largest country by area, with South Sudan Africa's newest country since achieving its independence on July 9,2011.

The smallest country in Africa is the Seychelles, its 453 square kilometres, but Gambia is the smallest of the African States on the mainland, with an area of 11,300 square kilometres.

Africa is the same length as its width. It measures approximately 7,500 km from South to North as well as from East to West.

The Sahara desert is over 10.4 million square kilometres and expands southwards at roughly 0.8 km a month

The highest mountain in Africa is Mount kilimanjaro in Tanzania, a dormant volcano.

The largest lake in Africa and the world's second largest fresh water lake is Lake Victoria which covers an area of 69,490 square kilometres.

The Nile is the longest river in the world, at 6,670 km long it winds from Uganda to Ethiopia, flowing through a total of nine countries. The Nile River touches Ethiopia, Zaire, Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda, Burundi and Sudan, as well as Egypt.

The Namib Desert is the world's oldest, and the only desert in Africa where you can find elephant, lions, giraffes and rhinos.

Namibia's fish river canyon is the second-largest in the world.

Africa is the richest continent in terms of natural resources.


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The Tour Operators promoting Africa in Canada brings together the leading Canadians tour operators and wholesalers for African Travel. They are dedicated to the growth and quality of travel to and within Africa from Canada by implementing joint marketing initiatives with African Tourist Boards and suppliers.

Consider travelling in Africa and learn how to sell Africa by joining the AFRICA TRAVEL ASSOCIATION.


Contact: Muguette Goufrani Email: airhwy@smartt.com or Website: http://www.africa-ata.org/bulletins.htm

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CCA, the leading U.S. business association focused on African business and investment, acquired ATA in January 2016. The Africa Travel Association (ATA), a division of Corporate Council on Africa, is the leading global trade association promoting travel and tourism to Africa and strengthening intra-Africa partnerships. Established in 1975, ATA serves both the public and private sectors of the international travel and tourism industry. ATA membership comprises African governments, their tourism ministers, tourism bureaus and boards, airlines, cruise lines, hotels, resorts, front-line travel sellers and providers, tour operators and travel agents, and affiliate industries. ATA partners with the African Union Commission (AU) to promote the sustainable development of tourism to and across Africa. ATA’s annual events in the USA and across Africa bring together industry leaders to shape Africa’s tourism agenda and to stay up-to-date on Africa’s latest tourism trends, issues and products. 
For more information about ATA, visit http://www.africatravelassociation.org.