The Africa Travel Association (ATA) 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 members include African governments, tourism ministers, tourism bureaus and boards, airlines, cruise lines, hotels, resorts, front-line travel agents, tour operators, and a media. ATA partners with the African Union Commission (AU) to promote the sustainable development of tourism to and across Africa.
ATA remains concerned about the Ebola virus and its far-reaching effects, and related perceptions, on the travel and tourism sector in Africa. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the most severely affected countries are Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone; however, the Africa tourism industry has felt stark repercussions across the continent through economic losses, cancelled flights and bookings, closed borders, and negative perceptions. These impacts reach far beyond the borders of those affected countries.
ATA urges the travel industry and traveling public to remain cautious, however, to acknowledge the immense size of the continent and to continue to travel to the vast majority of the countries that remain safe. With a landmass of 30.2 million square kilometers, the African continent is larger than China, India, and the United States combined, with its 54 independent countries.
ATA does not support the cancellation of flights to Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone as this creates further isolation, impeding the delivery of critical medical supplies and travel by aid workers, which can exacerbate the situation. According to the WHO, the countries affected “have very weak health systems, lacking human and infrastructural resources, having only recently emerged from long periods of conflict and instability.”
Now, more than ever, ATA hopes you will join our association in supporting, and standing in solidarity with Africa. ATA calls on travelers to make educated and rational decisions and cautions against the influence of sensationalized media. Africa has always suffered from challenges of perception relating to ignorance and a lack of understanding of the continent by citizens from around the world.
Despite these challenges, ATA remains optimistic about travel and tourism to the African continent. In 2013, Africa welcomed over 65 million visitors, consistently increasing its share in the global travel marketplace. Africa is an exciting travel destination, one of world’s most dynamic travel destinations for tourists seeking for adventure, exceptional cultural exchange and heritage tours, diverse culinary experiences, unparalleled safari and wildlife opportunities, first-class beaches, and a wealth of investment opportunities. In pursuit of its mission, ATA believes that tourism is a powerful tool for promoting economic growth, job creation, investment and cultural exchange.