2019 AFCON. Gov’t Strategizing On Maximising Tourism Gains

Chairing the 18th session of the National Tourism Board on June 26, Prime Minister, Head of Government Philemon Yang exhorted actors to take advantage of the continental football event to maximise tourism gains.

Shawn-Nathan EPANG

Cameroon is popularly known as Africa in miniature given its abundance and varied natural and human endowment that makes her a tourist haven in Africa. Under the leadership of President Paul Biya, the country’s touristic potentials are second to none in Africa. Beautiful beaches, mountains, rivers, lakes, fauna and flora found nowhere else on the continent and above all a hospitable population stands tall as Cameroon’s hallmarks.

With the hosting of the 2019 African Cup of Nations in Cameroon, the government thinks it is an opportunity for actors in the tourism sector to make brisk business during the tourney which President Paul Biya has assured and reassured the international community that Cameroon will be set on D-day to host. It is even more advantageous that Cameroon will be hosting the very first 24-team format adopted by the Confederation of African Football (CAF). This, by implication means there will be more delegations than previous editions and of course more visitors from across the world.

It is on this strength that the National Tourism Board is putting on guard actors in the sector to seize the opportunity and make the industry boom during the AFCON. Holding on the theme “Sustainable Sports Tourism: Strategies ahead of the African Cup of Nation, AFCON 2019”, recommendations on improving on the sector were examined and adopted. It emerged from the session that at least 95 per cent of the comfort and quality criteria required by the Confederation of African Football have been met by some 20 accommodation establishments.

Recommendations adopted include amongst others, the introduction of electronic visa system in Cameroonian diplomatic missions, strengthen government’s financial support to actors in the sector, and revise procedures to implement tourist tax, improve quality of vocational training in the hotel industry and market the Cameroonian destination.

Actions already taken were also reviewed by the board such as the increase in the fleet of the national air carrier, Camair-Co and the extension of its commercial network. The government is also pursuing development projects to embellish the cities chosen to host the competition notably, Yaounde, Douala, Limbe, Bafoussam and Garoua. The Minister of Housing and Urban Development, Jean Claude Mbwentchou stated that projects realised or on course within the framework of the 2019 AFCON have considered concerns related to the tourism industry as part of inclusive urban governance. The construction and rehabilitation of access roads to sports, hotels and hospital infrastructures, the rehabilitation of drainage and the embellishment of the AFCON host cities, the rehabilitation of secondary access roads and public lighting, the setting up of mass public transport system amongst others are some of the actions taken by the government to make AFCON a success story and by extension boost the tourism industry.

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