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African tourism flourishing industry : UNCTAD

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African tourism flourishing industry : UNCTAD africaguide.com

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Geneva : ​Four out of 10 international tourists in Africa come from the continent itself, according to the new UNCTAD Economic Development in Africa Report 2017:Tourism for Transformative and Inclusive Growth.

In sub-Saharan Africa, this number increases to two out of every three tourists whose travels originate on the continent.  Africans themselves are increasingly driving tourism demand in Africa.

Tourism in Africa is a flourishing industry that supports more than 21 million jobs, or 1 in 14 jobs, on the continent. Over the last two decades, Africa has recorded robust growth, with international tourist arrivals and tourism revenues growing at 6 per cent and 9 per cent, respectively, each year between 1995 and 2014 according to UNCTAD.

Focusing on tourism for transformative and inclusive growth, this year’s report encourages African countries to harness the dynamism of the tourism sector.

By collecting and comparing data from two different periods, 1995–1998 and 2011–2014, the report reveals that international tourist arrivals to Africa increased from 24 million to 56 million.

Tourism export revenues more than tripled, increasing from $14 billion to approximately $47 billion. As a result, tourism now contributes about 8.5 per cent to the continent’s gross domestic product (GDP).

The First Ten-Year Implementation Plan of the African Union’s Agenda 2063 aims at doubling the contribution of tourism to the continent’s GDP. To meet this target, tourism needs to grow at a faster and stronger pace.

“Tourism is a dynamic sector with phenomenal potential in Africa. Properly managed, it can contribute immensely to diversification and inclusion for vulnerable communities,” said Mukhisa Kituyi, the Secretary-General of UNCTAD.

Another important theme highlighted in the report is the mutually beneficial relationship between peace and tourism. Peace is of course fundamental for tourism. The mere appearance of instability in a region can deter tourists, leading to devastating, long-lasting economic consequences. However, the perception of danger does not always correspond with reality.

The 2014 Ebola outbreak in Western Africa had a very high cost in terms of tourism numbers and revenue lost across the entire continent. Despite being limited to relatively few countries in the western part of the continent, tourist arrivals and bookings fell in countries as far from the outbreak as South Africa and the United Republic of Tanzania.

The report notes that the economic impacts of political instability can be quite significant and long-lasting.  For example, following political instability in Tunisia, total tourism receipts in 2009–2011 declined by 27 per cent on average, from $3.5 billion in 2009 to $2.5 billion in 2011.

Addressing safety and security concerns and swift responses to crises by African Governments and regional institutions are paramount to the growth of tourism in Africa. Promoting strategies aimed at improving Africa’s image in the global media are also critical in ensuring the sector’s recovery after conflict or political unrest.

During the next decade, tourism’s continued growth is expected to generate an additional 11.7 million jobs in Africa.  Furthermore, where tourism thrives, women thrive.

In Africa, more than 30 per cent of tourism businesses are run by women; and 36 per cent of its tourism ministers are women, which is the highest share in the world according to UNCTAD .

July 6, 2017

Last modified on Saturday, 15 July 2017 12:25

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