Tourism: Minister Mame Mbaye Niang chairs ECOWAS Experts Meeting

The Minister of Tourism and Leisure, Mame Mbaye Kan Niang, chaired a meeting of experts in Dakar on Tuesday to draw up technical specifications for the digital platform for classifying ECOWAS tourist accommodation establishments.

In his opening speech, the Minister praised the diligence of the Ecowas Commission, through the Commissioner for Economic Affairs and Agriculture, and the Tourism Program Manager, in implementing the recommendation of the experts’ meeting held in Lomé and endorsed on April 7, 2023 by the ministers in charge of tourism.

“This welcome ECOWAS initiative to digitize hotel classification comes at a time when Senegal, through the Ministry of Tourism and Leisure, is designing and implementing major projects, notably to dematerialize procedures and finalize the Tourism Code, which takes into account the new standards and classification grids,” said the Minister.

This four-day technical meeting, attended by experts from Ecowas member countries, is intended as a forum for exchanging ideas on ways and means of pooling efforts to improve the community’s tourism offering.

In Senegal, the government is currently working with Agence Sénégal Numérique (Senum SA) on a project to digitalize the tourism ecosystem, with the aim of setting up a Tourism Data Space integrating customer services, collaborative tools and a tourism information system.

“All these data and tools will be hosted at the Tier 3-level Datacenter commissioned in June 2021 as part of the program known as Smart Senegal. This Datacenter has a capacity of 1,000 terabytes, with highly advanced levels of security, safety, connectivity and hosting,” emphasized the Senegalese Minister of Tourism and Leisure.

He also deplored the “upheavals” caused by the health crisis, which has plunged the tourism sector into a post-Covid recovery.

Among his department’s achievements, the Minister highlighted the creation of the Hotel and Tourism Credit (CHT).

This is a financial mechanism to support investment through a working capital financing line of fifteen (15) billion FCFA, of which ten (10) billion FCFA have been effectively mobilized.

The aim is to provide greater support for all companies in the tourism and hotel value chain, in their projects to renovate, extend, renew and acquire equipment on the one hand, and to create new businesses and design new innovative products on the other, including micro-businesses such as camps and inns.

For Ms Stella Christine Drabo, Ecowas Tourism Program Manager, the digital platform will be a modern community tool for classifying hotel establishments.

“We want to take advantage of all the assets of modern technology to optimize the hotel classification process. So beyond the standard regulatory criteria that exist, we want the classification process itself to become less costly for states,” she explained.

Among the advantages of this digital platform, Ms. Drabo cited the possibilities for regular automated monitoring and follow-up of hotel establishments, and for enhancing the value of jobs specific to the hotel industry.

She also pointed out that this digital tool will provide a storage space for this data, which will automatically become available to everyone, in order to obtain reliable statistics on the community’s hotel stock in real time.