By Demola Ojo
Pan-African Travel Association, The TeamAfrica, is to launch its flagship project – the 21 Wonders of Africa – on September 27 which is globally recognized as World Tourism Day. Each African country is to nominate ten sites for voting which will then be pruned to 21, ensuring representation from around the continent.
The association has already opened up its membership log to accommodate more members in readiness for this. Team leader, Ikechi Uko, explained to foundation members that membership was kept closed since March this year because of legal registration processes which have now been completed.
New members can now join TeamAfrica on recommendation of any registered member and approved by the founders or through the website www.theteamafrica.org. New members can join from all over Africa and the Diaspora once the person or organization can provide evidence of promoting Africa as a destination.
TeamAfrica projects that an Africa Calender of Events will be ready next year, as well as publications promoting the beaches of Africa, kingdoms in Africa and ethnic nationalities in the continent.
Apart from searching for the 21 Wonders of Africa, there are other ambitious and laudable objectives of the group which draws its membership from travel experts across the continent.
These include pushing for an Africa Open Skies agreement and promoting visa-less travel within Africa for Africans. TeamAfrica aims to get at least 10 million Africans to travel within Africa in the next three years.
While waiting for the registration process including g trademarks to be completed, the association had been busy articulating positions on African issues, especially regarding the much touted African passport and the preference for a Visa on Arrival policy.
The TeamAfrica commended the efforts of the AU leadership to bring about seamless travels within Africa for Africans but after extensive discussions agreed that proposed passport is symbolic but has no real value now. The association pointed out the difficulty in implementing the Yammousokro Decision to open African skies for aviation which has not been implemented since 1999.
According to the AU chairperson Dlamina Zulu, this delay in implementing an AU decision since 2003 has cost Africa a 40 per cent market share in aviation on the continent.
On the contrary, TeamAfrca argues that immediate implementation of Visa on Arrival for all Africans is easier to Implement and adopt. Ghana recently joined Rwanda and Seychelles in implementing VOA for all Africans. There are indications Nigeria will follow suit, with January 2017 touted as a take-off date.
The TeamAfrica contends that Visa on Arrival is a faster way of integrating Africa while discussions on how to implement the AU passport is being worked out between Nations.
The ECOWAS region was the first to launch free movement protocol among its 15 member countries with little or no negative impact despite the huge population within the region. Recently regional blocs in East and South of Africa have all implemented free movement protocol for regional citizens. Some regions have even implemented joint visa for regions like the EAC tourism Visa for three countries in East Africa.
Visa fees are another issue of interest in Africa. As Uganda drops visa fees from $100 to $50, some African citizens still pay close to $200 for visas to other African countries. The TeamAfrica believes that the AU should assist members establish a uniform fee for visas for African travellers.
The TeamAfrica is an association for players in Travel and Tourism business in African. It’s major role is to encourage Travel within Africa for Africans as most Africans do not travel much within African. TTA aims to grow travel within Africa by jointly promoting events within Africa and pressure Governments to adopt policies that encourage intra African Travels.It was formed in Kigali Rwanda last year and has since grown to include practitioners from over 15 countries.
Its landmark project is the expected Launch of the search for the 21 wonders of Africa.