UNWTO, Google Host Tourism Acceleration Program

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Emma Okonji

The United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) and Google have gone into partnership to create and host an online Acceleration Program for UNWTO Member States’ tourism ministers, top travel associations and tourism boards to further develop innovation and digital transformation skills.

Ahead of World Tourism Day, the organisations hosted the first UNWTO Google Tourism Acceleration Program focused on insights from Nigeria, Kenya and South Africa.
Tourism is the backbone of many economies around the world. As data from UNWTO shows, tourism represents 9 per cent of global trade for Africa and 1 in 10 jobs directly and indirectly. Moreover, the sector drives inclusive growth, as women make up 54 per cent of the workforce.

The COVID-19 crisis has disproportionately affected tourism, a sector that accounts for millions of jobs around the globe. While no one can say with certainty when the sector will recover, people are starting to dream of getaways again – whether closer to home or to remote destinations. As more and more people go online to search where and when they can travel, accelerating the digitisation of the tourism sector will be key to helping it adapt and recover, which is the reason why both organisations partnered.

UNWTO Director of Innovation, Digital Transformation and Investments, Natalia Bayona, said: “UNWTO is committed to helping Africa grow back stronger. With the right policies, training and management in place, innovation and technology have the potential to foster new and better jobs and business opportunities for tourism in Africa while improving the overall wellbeing and prosperity of the region”.

According to him, Africa is home to 30 per cent of the world’s population, adding hundreds of millions of new online users every year. Google Search is one of the places Africans go when researching and booking travel.

Google’s Director of Government Affairs and Public Policy for Emerging Markets, Doron Avni, said: “We’re here to help the tourism sector recover from this unprecedented crisis and emerge stronger. Our travel data insights and tools can help tourism authorities identify and understand the barriers and drivers to visit travel destinations for better tourism planning.”

Since Nigeria announced its intention to reopen its borders to international travel on August 29th, search interest for travel has grown, according to statistics from Nigeria travel data insights.