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Africa: A continent with over 5O Separate Travel Destinations
by Jerry W. Bird

jerry birdQuick Now! When you think of Africa, what image comes to mind? Do you visualize a luxury tented camp near Mt. Kilimanjaro in Tanzania? Do you see an elegant, Orient-Express class railway coach sailing through a grassy sea? Is a world class United Nations Convention Center and 90 foreign embassies your idea of Addis Ababa? How about a Manhattan skyline in Abidjan, Cote d'Ivoire, West Africa? Believe it! The state of the art facilities in hotels, resorts, lodges, and meeting places for tourists and business visitors in many African countries shatters the myths and blows away most preconceived notions of today's visitor. So does the Transatlantic service of Africa based airlines, SAA, Ethiopian Airlines, Air Afrique and Ghana Airways.

Another monster myth is the price tag. Thanks to fleet expansion and alliances, getting to Africa from the USA is easier and cheaper for your clients than ever. Just ask anyone from the Africa Travel Association (ATA) who has flown there lately. The Association escorted 10 travel writers on a tour of Ethiopia's Historic Route last year, and the stories that resulted were 100 per cent positive. A new Business Travel and Investment magazine that will be available starting in 2001 as a combination package to subscribers of Africa Travel Magazine. Watch this site for news of its editorial menu.


Africa Travel Association (ATA) Builds Bridges to Africa
When 500 delegates convene in Cape Town, South Africa, May 20-25, 2001, they'll be toasting ATA's 26th International Congress. Of course, it will be with the finest Cape wines. As a nonprofit, nonpolitical organization, ATA's membership is comprised of government ministers, tourist board officials, tour operators, travel agency, hotel, airline, marketing and media executives, educators and group organizers. ATA's mandate is to educate its membership, teaching agents about changing consumer demands, how to market new African products, packages and destinations effectively, and why cultural, educational and ecotourism is gaining such popularity in America. Niche markets are foremost - adventure travelers, seniors, families on safari, African-Americans seeking cultural heritage, budding archaeologists, history buffs, sports lovers, the meetings and incentive trade - you name it. ATA teaches agents how to spot new trends and cash in early.

Africa Travel Association's Global Perspective
"The Association has achieved a global position in the travel industry through alliances that are far reaching in scope," says in Mira Berman, ATA Executive Director, "My predecessor Hagos Legesse and our founder, the late Murray Vidockler, paved the way." A true 'giant' among Travel Agents, Vidockler launched British Caledonian Airways; provided 500 buses for Martin Luther King's Washington address, founded the Africa Travel Association in 1975, and stands tall in the ASTA Hall of Fame. Another stalwart is the late Fred Fuller, who helped forge a partnership with the Association of Retail Travel Agents. ATA is also a member of (ASTA) American Society of Travel Agents, the (WTO) World Tourism Organization and a "Green Globe" member.

ATA's founder also established SATH, now called the Society for Accessible Travel for Handicapped and Mature. More recently ATA became allied with (IIPT) International Institute for Peace Through Tourism as a founding member of the Coalition of Partners. ATA's President Mike A. Gizo, Tourism Minister of Ghana, was featured speaker at Global Peace Convention in Scotland and the first Global Summit on Peace Through Tourism in Jordan, November, 2000. This year's ATA Congress has invited both partner organizations to be on the program in order to broaden the delegates perspective on travel.

What stands out like a beacon, is the number of African Tourism Ministers who are active in ATA's operations and affairs. Being non political seems to bring out the best in everyone. These leaders' hands-on approach, sets a fine example for their counterparts in other countries seeking to build a viable tourism sector. They get into shirtsleeve sessions with the rank and file, and know how to speak the language of marketing. The content from December's Ecotourism Symposium in Abuja, Nigeria was overwhelming in its scope. This and similar material from past Congresses, points out how serious Africans are about creating Peace and Success via tourism.


How does ATA benefit Travel Agents?
• Profitability: Learn how to profit from higher commissions of a long-haul.
• Professional Seminars on selling Africa to special interest markets.
• Networking: Key contacts, Tourist Boards, hoteliers and ground operators.
• Experiences: See more of Africa, local culture and customs first hand.
• Education: Destination Seminars on Africa's diverse tourism products.
• Marketing: More products, niche markets, seniors, youth, African-Americans, etc.
• Social: Attend Congresses and Symposia of World Importance.


ATA Chapters: Like a University for Travel Agents
"The need for education on Africa is widespread and growing like wildfire, " says Muguette Goufrani, Associate Editor of Africa Travel Magazine, who fields daily inquiries from prospective members on the ATA web site. Having been a Travel Agent in North and West Africa, Muguette sees the potential. "Africa's a hot item. Living north of Seattle on the Pacific Coast, we're about as long haul as one can be. Yet every time our ATA Chapter hosts an Africa Night, we get a full house. The densely populated Portland- Seattle-Vancouver Corridor and the Pacific Rim area which it touches, is fertile ground to grow a garden of new ATA chapters. It's rich multicultural mix is like the United Nations. "

Speaking of ATA benefits, Mike Madison of Arbor Travel, President of Southern California Chapter says, "It's increased my knowledge of Africa, and given me an opportunity to meet African Tourism Board officials and form lasting networks. Now there are Africans I can contact when I have a tour group; people who are in a position to do something." His colleague, Eunice Rawlings of Africa Travel & Trade Bureau added, "When I first joined ATA in 1980, I could not have imagined the rich and rewarding journey I would take as I was introduced to Africa through informative dinner seminars and annual congresses on the African continent. Aside from the networking opportunities that ATA offers, the added benefit has been meeting and making lifelong friends with the nicest people on earth both in USA and in Africa."

It's amazing what a nonprofit and nonpolitical organization can do when its goals are well defined. Being non political, ATA is well positioned to bring tourism news about Africa to the world, while teaching and practicing tolerance. It's voice is Africa Travel Magazine, which targets travel agents in the United States and Canada. This year, with the ATA Web Site having passed the 300 page mark, as Africa's message is broadcast worldwide and around the clock. Web site: www.africa-ata.org.

Africa Travel Association:
347 Fifth Avenue, #610 New York, NY, USA 10016
(212) 447-1926, fax (212) 725-8253
e-mail africatravelasso@aol.com

African Wildlife Foundation
For more than 40 years, the African Wildlife Foundation (AWF) has focused exclusively on the continent of Africa. Through these years AWF has played a major role in ensuring the continued existence of some of Africa's most rare and treasured species such as the elephant, the mountain gorilla, rhinoceros and cheetah. AWF has invested training and resources in African individuals and institutions that have gone on to play critical roles in conservation. We have significantly increased scientific understanding of Africa's extraordinary ecosystems through research. We have pioneered the use of community conservation and conservation enterprise to demonstrate that wildlife can be conserved while people's well being is also improved. We have provided crucial assistance to national parks and reserves and promoted international cooperation to protect important sites and populations that stretch across national boundaries.

African Heartlands Program

The essential need to conserve Africa's remaining vital ecosystems inspired AWF to mark a new era in African conservation by establishing the African Heartlands Program in 1998. Heartlands are large, cohesive conservation landscapes which are biologically important and have the scope to maintain healthy populations of wild species and natural processes well into the future. They also form a sizable economic unit in which tourism or other natural resource-based activities can contribute significantly to the livelihoods of people living in the area. Most of the African Heartlands include a combination of government lands (like national parks) community-owned lands, and lands owned by individuals or the private sector.

AWF has performed extensive scientific research and feasibility studies to select and prioritize Africa's most viable conservation landscapes. In these vast conservation landscapes, which frequently cross national boundaries, AWF works with local partners to undertake concrete activities that protect more land for conservation while mitigating threats to these valuable resources.

Seven Heartlands have been initially identified: Four Corners (Zambia, Zimbabwe, Botswana and Namibia); Kilimanjaro (Kenya and Tanzania); Limpopo (Mozambique, South Africa and Zimbabwe); Maasai Steppe (Tanzania); Samburu (Kenya); Virunga (Uganda, Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo); and Zambezi (Zimbabwe, Zambia and Mozambique).

Education and African Leadership Program

From the beginning, AWF has believed that Africans are the ideal stewards of Africa's natural resources. This core belief led AWF to found the first school to train African wildlife managers in Tanzania in 1961. During its early decades, AWF helped to establish and support wildlife clubs in several African countries to help raise the awareness and interest of a new generation in the importance of conservation. AWF has also provided scholarships and educated hundreds of Africans in conservation studies to assure the survival of Africa's wildlife heritage.

Today over 80% of AWF's staff are African professionals. Dr. Helen Gichohi, an ecologist from Kenya, is head of AWF's conservation programs in Africa; Dr. Philip Muruthi, a Princeton educated zoologist, is AWF's chief scientist; Mr. Alfred Kikoti, a former park warden, is now extending Cynthia Moss's elephant research across the border into the west Kilimanjaro region of Tanzania; Mr. Eugène Rutagarama, working under the AWF-funded International Gorilla Conservation Program (IGCP), risked his life during civil war in Rwanda to secure the safety of the Virungas' fragile mountain gorilla population, a distinction acknowledged when he recently received the prestigious Goldman Award.

AWF's commitment to developing and supporting Africa's future conservation leaders, led to the creation of the Charlotte Conservation Fellowship. This scholarship program honors the memory of longtime AWF supporter Charlotte Kidder Ramsay by providing educational grants to Africans pursuing advanced degree studies in conservation-related fields.

Critical Species Research and Conservation Program

Over the past four decades, AWF has supported some of the most respected and important research projects on the continent including those of Dian Fossey, Jane Goodall and Cynthia Moss. AWF continues its tradition of support to important research with an emphasis on research projects which directly address conservation management problems and human-wildlife conflicts. These projects include:

* Elephants. AWF supports important elephant research and conservation in many of the savanna Heartlands where they occur. Recent research has focused on the use of the landscape and corridors by elephants.

* International Gorilla Conservation Program (IGCP). A joint initiative of AWF, Fauna and Flora International and the World Wide Fund for Nature aimed at conservation and research of mountain gorillas and their afromontane habitat. This acclaimed effort is largely credited for having saved this critically endangered species despite the tragic civil disturbances of recent years in the region.

* Rhino Conservation. AWF has provided support for rhino conservation in Kenya, Tanzania, South Africa and Namibia. Priority has been given to testing different strategies and technologies such as sanctuaries and radio collars for protecting and increasing the numbers of this highly endangered animal.

* Predators. AWF provides support to a number of projects for the protection of endangered predators including the cheetah, the African hunting dog and the Ethiopian wolf. We also support a several studies that take a unique approach to understanding how communities of predators such as lion, leopard and hyena coexist in the same ecosystems.

Conservation Enterprise

AWF has established strategically located Conservation Centers throughout Africa. Staffed with an unparalleled team of enterprise specialists, these specialists offer expertise in business planning, law and community development. Overall, AWF specialists assist rural communities who live with wildlife to establish enterprises related to conservation. Wildlife then becomes a welcome asset rather than a costly nuisance to local people.

Conservation related enterprises in Africa are frequently concessions for wildlife safaris, ecotourism lodges, walking safaris and camps. Other enterprises that AWF has fostered include the production of honey from protected forests, sale of local handicrafts to tourists and the marketing and export of bush products