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The Africa Travel Association (ATA) held a US-Africa Tourism Seminar on March 7 – 8 in the DC Convention Center.  You can read the full program here (with bios).  Although headquartered in New York, the ATA has Africans serving on its board.  In what I find to be supremely ironic, the President of the ATA is Walter Mzembi, who belongs to Robert Mugabe’s ZANU-PF party in Zimbabwe, of which many members are the subject of US travel sanctions.

The event convened big names from the Department of State (though far less governmental representatives than I would have thought), the President of the Corporate Council on Africa, representatives from travel agents and several African airlines (including the Nigerian airline Arik Air, which I had not known flied outside of Africa, but apparently has flights to London and New York).

Aside from a panel highlighting Cameroon, the few regional panels appear to focus, unsurprisingly, on southern Africa.

ATA has a lot of information on it website, so I encourage you to check out the links above if the African tourism industry is of interest to you.  I was not at the Seminar, but I find it great to see that such work is taking place.  Going to Africa for a safari or holiday will not automatically contribute to development/infrastructure/economic improvements and foster understanding of the continent, but it certainly has the potential to do so.