MASERU — Preparations for the inaugural Regional Youth in Tourism Arts Festival and Conference slated for December 12-13 have reached an advanced stage with 15 Southern African Development Community (Sadc) countries having registered to participate.
The Regional Tourism Organisation of Southern Africa (Retosa) who are the organisers of the event have confirmed that its 15-member states and youth drawn from youth tourism entrepreneurs who are below 30 years of age, as well as students at universities and colleges who are doing courses in tourism or interested in going into the tourism industry will be participating at the event.
Officials from ministries of tourism, education, youth, arts and culture have also been invited.
The objective is to facilitate the mainstreaming of tourism into the education system across the region, to involve the youth in the development of tourism, to use tourism as a vehicle for creating employment and wealth, in the process contributing to poverty alleviation in Retosa member states and also to promote regional integration and a southern Africa, single destination vision among the youth.
The Festival will be running concurrently with the Youth in Tourism Essay Competition.
The essay competition was targeted at primary and secondary scholars to write an essay under the theme “Turning Southern Africa into a Competitive and Green Tourism Destination’’.
Entries have so far been received from Seychelles, Botswana, Namibia and Lesotho.
More countries are expected to submit their entries as the school term comes to an end.
Three primary and three secondary school winners will be sponsored to go to Malawi for further presentations and two finalists will be elected Junior Tourism Ministers.
Retosa is expecting youth performing groups in all genres to come and showcase their talent.
This platform will allow the youth to engender a clearer understanding of different cultures across the region, the diverse languages and the tourism product offerings from across southern Africa.
At the festival, the youth will exhibit Southern Africa’s travel, heritage and culture under the theme “Unity in Diversity”.
The aim is to cement inter regional relationships and show that southern Africa is a single, multi-faceted destination.
Retosa is the tourism implementing agency for Sadc.
Its primary objective is to facilitate and promote tourism growth and development in Southern Africa.