Five years ago in 2017 the idea of an African Tourism Board started far away from Africa. It started in the heart of Micronesia in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, when the African Tourism Marketing Corporation was registered in Honolulu, Hawaii, USA.
It took about two years of hard work and networking, when African Tourism Board officially launched at the World Travel Market in Capetown in April 2019.
This followed a very successful brainstorming session at the World Travel Market in London, in November 2018.
At the World Travel Market 2018 in London, Hawaii based eTurboNews managed to get travel and tourism leaders from across the African continent together to share their common dream of uniting the continent through tourism, and start an African Tourism Board.
The outspoken minister of tourism Dr. Memunatu Pratt for Sierra Leone was one of the many tourism leaders attending the eTN brainstorming session. She got up and cheered the audience in the packed room at Excel in London: “Lets rally behind Juergen and get the African Tourism Board moving.”
Joining hands in marketing, remaining impartial and none political was the appeal the eTurboNews publisher and founding chairman of the African Tourism Board, Juergen Steinmetz had for anyone who asked about what ATB will be about.
Already before the official launch of ATB in Capetown, more than 1000 eTurboNews readers from African countries joined this new organization together with several hundred friends of Africa in Europe, North America and other countries.
On April 11, 2019 from 1530-1730 hours, an international team of experts made it official. The African Tourism Board was officially formed. One of the first supporter, who wanted to get involved was Cuthbert Ncube, a known leader in African Tourism and the World Tourism Organization
Speaking at the launch for ATB in Capetown included the Hon minister of tourism Moses Vilakati from Eswatini, Lilluy Ajarova, CEO of Uganda Tourism, Lucky George, the current head of the Africa Travel Commission, Francoise Diele from the Cameroon Travel Center, Dr. Peter Tarlow, Safer Tourism, the first just appointed CEO of ATB Doris Woerfel, eTurboNews VP Dmytro Makarov, and the founding chairman Juergen Steinmetz.
Tony Smyth from the I Free Group in Hong Kong, SAR China was the first ATB sponsor, host of the launch dinner in CapeTown, and provided hundreds of free SIM cards to participants.
It took only a few more days before the initial executive board, Juergen Steinmetz, Alain St. Ange, Dr. Peter Tarlow, Hon Minister from Eswatini, Moses Vilakati agreed at a lunch at the Westin Hotel in Capetown to accept the generous offer by Cuthbert Ncube to become the first chairman of the new organization.
African Tourism Board was official and in African hands.
Today Ncube told eTurboNews: “When I agreed to chair the African Tourism Board, none of us would have imagined the challenges we were about to face. Specifically, with the outbreak of COVID, our goal was for Africa to stay as one and stay strong – and we did it.”
Under the leadership by Mr. Ncube this organization became the most influential tourism initiatives in the African travel and tourism world.
Others joined the ATB board to make the African Tourism Board more successful, including former Minister of Tourism for Zimbabwe, Dr. Walter Mzembi, and the current Minister of Tourism for Jamaica, the Hon. Edmund Bartlett, Dr. Taleb Rifai, former secretary-general of UNWTO, only to name some.
Dedicated ATB members formed a team of tourism ambassadors across the continent. eTurboNews helped with dozens of zoom meetings and hundreds of articles to bring Africa together and showcase the continent to the world during the COVID pandemic.
At the same time a successful friends of the media group was formed to multiply the outreach.
With Mr. Bartlett becoming one of the first board members for ATB in 2018, the African connection to the Caribbean and the Americas was made. It brought the diaspora together.
On the sideline of the canceled ITB Berlin trade show in March 2020 African Tourism Board, together with PATA and the Nepal Tourism Board, started the rebuilding.travel discussion.
This resulted in the formation of the World Tourism Network on January 1, 2021.
African Tourism Board and World Tourism Network combined have members and support in 130 countries and are growing strong.
The first global summit for World Tourism Network, Time 2023, will take place in Bali, Indonesia, and Africa will have a strong role.
At WTM in Capetown next week, ATB Chairman Cuthbert Ncube and the Hon. Edmund Bartlett from Jamaica are expected to underline their commitment to join hands with African Tourism Board, and the World Tourism Network at the upcoming Time 2023 summit.
Resilience, investments, climate change, medical tourism, inbound, and outbound tourism will be a focus at the TIME 2023 summit in Bali.
The World Tourism Network, as well as the African Tourism Board, always focused on giving a voice to small and medium-size players in the travel and tourism industry.
ATB and WTN founder Juergen Steinmetz will not be able to attend the World Travel Market in Capetown in person next week.
He said: “I am proud to see the two organizations come together in Capetown. After all, it all started there. The World Travel Market will always have a special meaning for us.”
“What you get at WTN and ATB is for good people with a vision to come together as friends, join hands, remain determined and resilient. The global tourism world is back in business, and Africa is playing a special and important role.”
ATB patron Dr. Taleb Rifai often explained to African Tourism Members: “Africa is where it all began.”