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The United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) and Google on Wednesday hosted the first UNWTO & Google Tourism Acceleration Program which focused on insights from Nigeria, Kenya and South Africa.

The programme was put together ahead of World Tourism Day, Google said in a statement.

The organisations said they partnered to create and host an online Acceleration Program for UNWTO member states’ tourism ministers, top travel associations and tourism boards.

The initiative is put together to further develop innovation and digital transformation skills across the Africa and beyond.

The COVID-19 crisis has disproportionately affected tourism, a sector that accounts for millions of jobs around the globe, a statement by Google said Wednesday.

“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.”

The organisation added that tourism is the backbone of many economies around the world, adding that as data from UNWTO shows, tourism represents 9 per cent of global trade for Africa and one in 10 jobs directly and indirectly.

Moreover, the sector drives inclusive growth, as women make up 54 per cent of the workforce.

“UNWTO is committed to helping Africa grow back stronger,” says Natalia Bayona, UNWTO Director of Innovation, Digital Transformation and Investments.

“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”.

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.

“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,” says Doron Avni, Google’s Director of Government Affairs and Public Policy for Emerging Markets.

On its part, since Nigeria announced its intention to reopen its borders to international travel on August 29, search interest for travel has grown.

This presents an opportunity to rethink tourism, innovate and further develop the digital transformation of the sector so it can build the foundations for future sustainable growth, the organisations said.

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