David Saunders

Africa Overview

Morocco as a Tourism Investment

Ecotourism a Stimulus

Nepad Challenge

Investing in Africa


African American
Tourism Market

of Tourism to Ethiopia
Bunce Island


US President
African Visit






Mr. David J. Saunders is the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Venue International Professionals, Inc. (VIP) &endash; a full service travel and tourism consulting firm that specializes on the Continent of Africa and has visited twenty-one African countries (at least once) over the past seven years. He is also currently a Member of the International Board of Directors of the Africa Travel Association (ATA) and willingly serves on several ATA Standing Committees. In 2005, he received the ATA Founder's Award for his substantial contributions to the professional growth and development of the ATA organization at all levels and is definitely a model of commitment and service to the promotion of travel and tourism opportunities to the Continent of Africa. He is a prolific writer of newsworthy articles and papers for many trade publications (to include the Africa Travellers Journal, Africa Travel Magazine, ATA Website, and Black Meetings & Tourism Magazine) as well as a featured panelist of radio, cable television and other mediums on various topics of the travel and tourism industry as well as trade and investment related opportunities in Africa. The following is an overview of his many accomplishments and achievements both within the ATA organization and with many other similar Africa-focused organizations and associations:

• Chapter President of Mid-Atlantic Region of Africa Travel Association from 1997-2001. During his tenure, he substantially elevated the stature of the ATA organization by establishing ongoing networking relationships with numerous travel and tourism industry professionals, non-governmental organizations, chambers of commerce, governmental agencies, and members of the African Diplomatic Corps.

• During his tenure, the Mid-Atlantic Chapter received an Outstanding Service Award from the ATA organization. Several examples of activities that merited his recognition for such a prestigious award from his peers included, hosting ATA's "Best of Africa" event, sponsoring ATA promotional activities during Congressional Black Caucus Legislative Week, and sponsoring travel and tourism forums with the District of Columbia's Chamber of Commerce, Blacks In Government, Constituency for Africa and Corporate Council on Africa.

• Created the Chapter Presidents' Forum Initiative, whereby ATA Chapter Presidents meet at the ATA Congress in order to share ideas and information amongst each other.

• Created the New Members' Orientation Forum Initiative, whereby new members to the ATA organization are provided with news and information during the ATA Congress.

• Chairperson of ATA Membership Committee as well as member of the Constitution Advisory Committee, Plans, Programs and Development Committee, Education and Training Committee and Awards Committee.

• As Chairperson of Membership Committee, revitalized the Atlanta ATA Chapter and provided advice and counsel during initial year's formation.

• Member of the ATA Constitution Advisory Committee that recently revised the ATA Constitution and By-Laws. Made significant contributions to the language of the document and lobbied amongst fellow ATA Board Members for eventual approval and acceptance of the revisions and addendums.

• Frequent contributing writer of more than sixty (60) newsworthy articles and papers published by the Africa Travellers Journal, Africa Travel Magazine, Africa Travel Association's Website and Black Meetings and Tourism Magazine.

In addition to the above ATA-related activities, he has further expanded the AA organization's influence and recognition through ongoing outreach activities to include:

• As the Director of Administration and Management Services for the Constituency for Africa, he has been able to effectively lobby federal government agencies and congressional representatives about the value-added benefits of the travel and tourism industry of Africa in relationship to the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA).

• Co-wrote a proposal to link small and medium-sized American businesses with their counterparts in Africa, which was awarded to the Constituency for Africa by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). Within this USAID grant, he was able to incorporate a significant component that emphasized trade and investment opportunities in the travel, tourism and hospitality industries of Africa.

• Co-wrote a proposal to provide a fifteen-week internship program for students of American colleges and universities to gain substantial knowledge and insight about Africa through an internship with the Constituency for Africa, which culminates in a two-week study abroad program in Africa. The Congressional Black Caucus and U.S. State Department subsequently endorsed this unique program for consideration with their Foreign Service Cultural Diversity Programs.

• Effectively collaborates with World Bank Africa Club and other Africa-oriented non-governmental organizations in order to provide consultative advice on the role of the travel and tourism industry in Africa with resultant economic growth and development. Serves on numerous advisory committees in the capacity of an advisor on travel and tourism-related trade and investment opportunities on the Continent of Africa.

In addition to the above, Mr. Saunders serves on the following international boards:

• Member of the Franchise3Group, which is an international organization devoted to the promotion of franchise investments and ownership throughout the world. He currently serves in an advisory role for travel and tourism-related franchise investment opportunities on the Continent of Africa.

• Small Business Administration's International Trade Advisory Council with a specific focus on the Continent of Africa and the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA).

• Executive Director of the American and African Business Women's Alliance (AABWA), which is an international organization devoted to the empowerment of entrepreneurship between American and African women business owners.

• Special Advisor to Students In Free Enterprise-Africa, which is a non-profit organization that is devoted to creating entrepreneurial training and related business opportunities for students in colleges and universities across Africa.

. Saunders (continued)

Poised for growth
According to 1998 world tourism figures, Africa attracted only four percent of the 626 million international tourist arrivals recorded, and received only 2.2 percent of the US $445 billion spent globally by tourists. Fortunately, that share of the international travel and tourism industry is expected to grow considerably within the first decade of this new millennium. In fact, the travel and tourism industry is projected to become Africa's most attractive sector for foreign direct investment during the next five years, according to the 1999 World Investment Report issued by the United Nations Conference on Trade and development. This forecast was based on the results of a survey of 44 African investment promotion agencies which showed that from 1996 to 1998 tourism was ranked third behind the telecommunications and agri-business industries that received considerable foreign direct investments.

Encouraging facts in Tourism's favor
Moreover, it is a little known fact that the travel and tourism industry is the only major sector in international trade in services in which developing countries recorded surpluses. This positive balance in their travel and tourism account improved from an mount of US $6 billion in 1980 to US $62.2 billion in 1996, according to United Nations' statistics. The world Tourism Organization currently ranks the African Continent as one of the fastest growing destinations for international tourists. International tourist arrivals rose in Africa from 7.5 percent in 1998 to US $24.9 million (from $23.2 million), while receipts jumped 5.9 percent from US $9 billion to $9.6 billion. Tourism organizations, tour operators, governments, hotel groups, airlines and other service-related providers in Africa are now joining forces to ensure that the continent is put firmly on the map as one of the world's premiere travel and tourism destinations.

A pattern set by Caribbean Tourism
In fact, there is an international trend towards the establishment of tourism and marketing strategies much like what was done for African-Americans with regard to the travel and tourism industry of the Caribbean Islands. Interrelated travel and tourism indicators and trends strongly point towards a thriving business opportunity for investors in the travel and tourism industry on the continent of Africa. Consequently, many African tourism ministries are working with a number of international organizations and governments to develop their tourism research master plans. African countries are also cooperating on a regional level to attract international tourists and investors with a focus firmly on the more affluent foreign traveler rather than cheap charters and the potential for returns on their investments are very attractive. It is a strategic partnership that will stretch beyond Africa's borders but the question is how will African-Americans benefit from this increased investment opportunity?