President of South Africa, Cyril Ramaphosa, while speaking at the consolidation of the Africa Travel in Durban, said that tourism is emerging as Africa’s “new gold.” Eulogizing the continent for its maturing into a tourist hub, he said that the sector, if well nurtured, would prove a goldmine for not just individual countries but as well as citizens.
Per information culled from the July issue of the Africa Tourism Monitor 2018 by the African Development Bank, Africa earned USD 36.2 Bn in revenue from 62.9 Mn international visitors in 2016. Compared to the 17.4 Mn generated by the continent from the same sector in 1990, it is evident that tourism in the region is experiencing a dramatic lift.
According to the same report, tourism helped Africa earn USD 36.2 Bn in 2016, accounted for 22.8 million direct and indirect jobs in 2017, and generated 9.3 million jobs by direct employment in the industry.
While the continent’s tourism strides are yet modest compared to the performance of its foreign counterparts, several Sub-Saharan African countries are poised for takeoff. According to the AfDB, Sierra Leone had just 30,000 tourists in 2016, but that figure accounted for a growth rate of 126 percent in the West African country.
Tourism which accounts for 10 percent of the world’s jobs and GDP, generated USD 39.2 Bn and created 9.1 Mn jobs within Africa’s sector is 2015, according to a Brookings report. Data from the World Tourism Organization also shows that African countries recorded the highest growth average compared to any other region in the world, thanks to the over 1.3 billion travelers on the move.
International tourist arrivals in the continent are estimated to have gone up by 8.6 percent while the global average is 7 percent. This means that around 63 million visitors brought in USD 37 Bn to Africa two years ago.
“Tourism is the new gold; it’s the new gold mines that our countries can come across. It is a sector that is thriving and has tremendous potential for further growth, and more particularly for job creation,” said President Ramaphosa.
According to him, South Africa is determined to leverage its tourism by overhauling the visa process to encourage more visitors. The country’s current ranking on Africa’s tourism table is at an all-time high.
In terms of overall numbers, however, the country contends with Nigeria, Egypt, and Morocco, all of whom top Africa’s charts to offer the most tourism-related jobs between 700,000 and 1.2 million. South who topped the tables in this 2015 report by World Economic Forum, leads the way in Sub-Saharan Africa with more than 10 million arrivals.
Kenya’s arrivals also jumped from 1.4 million in 2017 to more than 2 million in 2017, according to current government stats. Due to increased air connectivity, some reports revealed that African islands such as Seychelles and Cape Verde experienced double-digit growth. The growths in different countries come when giant leaps are being taken by the continent to better its travel and connectivity.
In 2018, the African Union launched a single air market initiative and implored more countries to make their visa regulations more friendly and easy so that cross-border travel be improved. Global hotel chains continue to open branches in the continent, including Marriott International (149), AccorHotels (116) and Tsogo Sun (96).
WeeTracker reported in January that Tanzania’s government gave a 50-day ultimatum to short-stay accommodation operations in the nation, in a move which is expected to make money from the Airbnb operators in the East African country.
“We tend to think of tourism as being associated with pleasure motives such as visiting iconic sites and getting involved in recreational activities, but it can also embrace business, education, health or religion as a basis for traveling,” said Ramaphosa.
He also commended Kenya, Uganda, and South Africa for their efforts to ensure tourists’ safety through Kenya Tourism Federation Safety and Communication Centre, the Uganda Tourism Police and the National Tourism Safety Monitors programme in South Africa.