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Mukete Daniel The Government Cameroon takes a bold and aggressive step towards conquering key Tourism Markets in the western hemisphere by opening a Tourism Information Bureau for the American countries in Washington D.C

Cameroon’s tourism objective is having at least One million foreign tourists a year by 2025, with a corresponding significant increase in revenue and foreign exchange earnings as prescribed in the Growth and Employment Strategy Document. This is the target that the Ministry of Tourism and Leisure (MINTOUL) has given itself to attain by the year 2025.

It is widely known and for a long time now that Cameroon has a huge tourism potential and has been rightly described as “Africa in Miniature” or “All of Africa in one country.” This potential is gradually being transformed into reality, that is, into consumable tourism products and with almost eight hundred thousand (800,000) arrivals in 2013, the country is fast becoming an “emerging” tourism destination. Thanks to the political foresight of the leadership of the country in classifying tourism as a strategic economic sector for job creation and foreign exchange earnings.

Much is being done to encourage investments in the sector and visas are being issued to tourists with ease in all the Cameroonian diplomatic representations. Tourism has become everybody’s affair and the Ministry in charge of the sector is carrying on a nationwide campaign to educate the people and local councils on the economic importance of tourism.

In order to attain the set objective for international tourists, the Ministry in charge of the tourism sector was reorganized by the Presidential Decree N° 2012/291 of 21 June 2012 reorganizing the Ministry of Tourism and Leisure. By this decree the mission of the Ministry saw expanded to include the development and the promotion of Leisure that was hitherto handled by the Ministry in charge of Sports. Two other Tourism Bureaus were also created in Washington and in Beijing in addition the Bureau in Paris created in 1999.

The expansion of the mission of the Ministry came after the declaration of the tourism sector as one of the priority sectors of the economy thus reflecting governments believe that a well developed tourism industry can turn around the Cameroonian economy from over dependence on agriculture and oil. The virtues of tourism include the following:
• The creation of decent jobs for the youths and women,
• The rejuvenation of declining industrial zones,
• The extermination of rural urban migration,
• The restoration of the dignity of the rural folks,
• The enhancement of national unity and understanding,
• The re-distribution of national income in favour of the rural population,
• The improvement of perceptions of visitors vis-à-vis the destination and
• The creation of a new destination images etc, etc.

In fact if there are any results that Cameroon is expecting at this time of global economic difficulties, it is all of the virtues sighted above. So the insistence and determination of President Paul Biya, President of the Republic of Cameroon to develop Cameroons tourism industry is genuine and clairvoyant. He has not only given the Tourism Sector a Ministry of its own but has today expanded its mission to include the Promotion of Leisure and appointed a Senior Minister (Minister of State) to head it.

As earlier mentioned, a major outcome of this transformation is the creation of two other Tourism Information Bureaus (or BITs in the French acronym) in Washington and in Beijing which became functional in 2013. This is a strategy aimed at penetrating leading tourism markets in the Western Hemisphere and in China where the Head of State, President Paul Biya, during his recent visit to China personally negotiated the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between Cameroon and China to send tourist to their respective countries.

President Biya, by placing these two Bureaus in Washington D.C. and in Beijing surely had in mind the opportunity of enhancing understanding between the people of the countries in the Americas (in particular Brazil, Canada and the United States of America) and China with the Cameroonian people and subsequently enjoy the economic, social and diplomatic fall outs from the relationships.

BIT Beijing covers all of Asia while BIT Washington covers North and South America. BIT Paris covers all of Europe.
BIT Washington is called to be a major player in the American Tourism League. With more than sixty (60) million Americans traveling abroad annually and spending over $60.3 billion on travel and tourism related goods, Cameroon has to position itself as a leading destination for American tourists. Of the over five hundred thousand (500000) American tourists traveling to Africa Cameroon should be able to attract a reasonable share. The United States of America, like many other Countries in the continents of North and South of America, has a historical and cultural link with Cameroon through the forceful migrations of our countrymen to the Americas. It is estimated that about 20-25% of Africans forcefully transported to the Americas came from Cameroon. Thus the UNESCO inspired ‘Slave Rout’ tourism project being implemented in Cameroon. For some time now more and more people with African roots in Americans, Brazil, and Canada are identifying with Cameroon through DNA tests. BIT Washington has to work in partnership with those organizations promoting tourism to Africa to encourage tourist in the American continents to visit Cameroon which is the truly represents African tourism.

To achieve this objective Mr. Mukete Daniel Modika, an experienced tourism expert appointed to head BIT Washington has come up with an ambitious plan to market his destination and is ready to work with partners like the African Travel Association (ATA), the Travel Adventure Show, including a number of Tour Operators and other marketing specialists and organizations promoting and marketing African destinations. For the time being, BIT Washington is lodged in the Embassy of Cameroon at 3007 Tilden Street, NW Washington D.C. 20008 and can be contacted by telephone at 202 265 8790 Ext. 206 or via email at cambitwashington@yahoo.com