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UNCTAD Report: African tourists to fuel growth

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UNCTAD Report: African tourists to fuel growth

UNCTAD release official report on Economic Development in Africa.


African tourists are emerging as the powerhouse for tourism on the continent, with four out of 10 international tourists in Africa coming from the continent itself. In sub-Saharan Africa, the number increases to two of every three tourists.

This is according to a report titled ‘Economic Development in Africa 2017: Tourism for Transformative and Inclusive Growth’, released by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) on July 5.

The report focuses on tourism for transformative and inclusive growth, encouraging African countries to harness the dynamism of the tourism sector. A summary of the report showed that Africa’s tourism industry supported more than 21 million jobs and is expected to generate an additional 11.7 million jobs by 2026.

It reveals that international arrivals to Africa increased from 24 million between 1995 and 1998, to 56 million between 2011 and 2014, with tourism export revenues more than tripling, increasing from $14 billion (€12.4bn), to $47 billion (€41.5bn), resulting in tourism contributing 8.5% to the continent’s GDP.

The African Union’s Agenda 2063, First 10-Year Implementation Plan, aims to double the contribution of tourism to the continent’s GDP, but in order to meet this target, tourism needs to grow at a faster and stronger pace.

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

During the media launch in Johannesburg it was stated that African governments should take steps toward liberalising air access, implementing the Yamoussoukro Decision on Open Skies for Africa, as this would create an additional 155 000 jobs, resulting in an increase of nearly 5 million passengers, contributing almost $1.3 billion (€1.15bn) to the continent’s GDP. Another step proposed was promoting free movement of persons and ensuring currency convertibility, as well as recognising the value of African tourism and removing barriers to growth.

Another important theme was the mutually beneficial relationship between tourism and peace. The instability portrayed in the region has long-lasting economic consequences. Tunisia was cited as an example, where the total of tourism receipts from 2009 to 2011 declined by 27% on average, from $3.5 billion (€3.1bn) in 2009, to $2.5 billion (€2.2 billion) in 2011.

Mention was also made of safety and security concerns, as well as the importance of swift responses to crises by African governments and regional institutions. The image portrayed has cast a shadow over Africa, hindering potential tourism, therefore promoting strategies aimed at improving Africa’s image in the global media are essential to ensuring the sector’s recovery after political unrest or conflict.

An interesting fact revealed in the report, is that more than 30% of tourism businesses in Africa are run by women, and 36% of the continent’s tourism ministers are women, the highest number in the world.

To end off, the report states that, through the creation of links between the tourism, infrastructure and agricultural sectors, ecotourism and the cultural and medical tourism market segments can foster diversification into higher value activities, whilst distributing income more broadly. In order to unlock the potential, African governments must adopt new measures that support local sourcing and encourage local entities’ participation in the tourism value chain, as well as boost infrastructure development.

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