ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia -- David Saunders, chief executive officer of
Venue International Professionals in Washington, said the U.S.
Congress could have passed the recent Africa Growth and Opportunity
Act on May 11 without even mentioning tourism as one of the areas
of potential opportunity for the continent.
Saunders said he happened to talk to one of the African
ambassadors about the legislation before it passed and learned to
his surprise that tourism was not mentioned.
At the least, he figured his conversation was a factor in
getting a message to Congress and getting the subject into the
Finding a place in that law was important, he said, because now
"there is money available to use for developing tourism" to
Typically, however, Congress does not necessarily mandate
economic funds for tourism projects.
Saunders told the anecdote to make a point during his
presentation to delegates at the annual Africa Travel Association
congress here last week.
He called on the ATA and its members to step up efforts to
interact with and influence government, whether it be through
lobbying and educating congressmen or becoming acquainted with the
African diplomatic corps.
Saunders urged establishing links with U.S. government agencies
that can have an impact on tourism infrastructure development, such
as the Commerce and Transportation departments.
He also urged "partnering" with the Small Business
Administration's International Trade Division.
He said he expects the SBA to be represented at the next annual
ATA meeting, in South Africa.
He also said the ATA would post information on the group's Web
site at www.africa-ata.org, with more details on the
opportunities for working with the SBA and how to do so.