Supporting tourism in Togo as a tool for development
Lomé – Through diversifying destinations and boosting tourist arrivals, tourism in developing countries can contribute to poverty reduction as it offers significant opportunities for employment creation, local economic development and integration into the international market.
The West African nation of Togo is aiming to increase the contribution of tourism to its national economy from two percent to seven percent by 2020, with the support of the United Nations.
The Togolese Government has formulated a master plan for tourism development to provide a coherent framework for mid-term goals and activities, ultimately aimed at boosting the country’s tourism industry and improving employment opportunities.
“This is something tangible,” Togo’s Minister of Tourism, Christophe Tchao, said during a launch ceremony for the plan, together with, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Resident Representative in Togo, Khardiata Lo N’Diaye, and in the presence of the Minister of Planning, Development and Territorial Development, Mawussi Djossou Semondji.
UNDP will contribute to the master plan as part of its support for government’s strategy for accelerated growth and promotion of employment.
“Tourism is essential for the Togolese economy. Togo has real potential and can reach the position it held several years ago,” Ms. Lo N’Diaye said.
Tourism in Togo has high growth potential. In 2011, the country received 325,633 tourists who generated income of nearly CFA franc 20 billion (approx. US$40 million). At nearly two percent of the gross national product, this income is similar to the rest of the West African Economic and Monetary Union, according to the Togolese ministry of tourism.
To be kick-started by the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) over the next 10 months, the first stages of the tourism master plan will involve a detailed situation analysis of Togo’s current tourism services and the development of and a long-term implementation strategy, including recommended strategic directions and cost estimates for activities to be implemented by 2018.
The budget for this 15-year sustainable development project is US$450,000, with US$319,000 contributed by UNDP and US$131,000 by the Togolese government.
The project will help integrate tourism into the broader development agenda and build the country’s competitive advantage - important given the UNWTO estimates that by 2020 there will be 1.6 billion international tourist arrivals worldwide, with Africa expected to receive 75 million of them.