The 2019 Africa Youth in Tourism Conference has officially opened in Bulawayo with the First Lady, Amai Auxillia Mnangagwa, calling for a more concerted effort in promoting the participation of youths in the sector.

According to the United Nations World Tourism Organisation, there were 1.4 billion tourist arrivals in 2018, an increase of six percent from 2017.

However, this has not translated to Africa, which still receives less than eight percent of global tourist arrivals.

The Patron of the Zimbabwe Youth in Tourism, First Lady Amai Auxillia Mnangagwa urged young people to take advantage of available opportunities in the sector.

“I urge you to work hard and take advantage of the numerous opportunities that Africa is providing for you. Your different governments have already demonstrated their commitment through supporting you to attend this conference,” the First Lady said.

There was also a strong appeal for financial institutions to relax their requirements for young people seeking start-up capital.

“May I, in this regard take this opportunity to appeal to banks and corporates to heed the government’s call to support the youth within the sector, most financial institutions require collateral, which most of these youths do not have,” Amai Mnangagwa added.

As a build-up to the conference, debating competitions were held at provincial level with participants from different institutions of higher learning taking part.

Those who made it to the finals took part in the grand competition held during the Africa Youth in Tourism conference in Bulawayo with Kwekwe Polytechnic being the overall winner.

Hillside Teachers’ College was second, while the prize of the best speaker went to Panashe Jonathan from Kwekwe Polytechnic.