For the third year running, the African Development Bank (AfDB) has published the Africa Tourism Monitor, an annual report on the tourism industry in Africa. This year’s report, a joint publication by the AfDB, New York University’s Africa House and the Africa Travel Association (ATA), is entitled “Unlocking Africa’s Tourism Potential”.
The report offers a comprehensive overview of the tourism sector in Africa, focusing on both opportunities and challenges. It features facts, figures and contributions from key tourism players across the continent, with tour operators, experts and industry representatives shedding light on key issues via a series of case studies.
Strong growth reflected in figures
One of the key findings of the report, as indicated in its introduction, is that the tourism sector in Africa is growing. In 2014, a total of 65.3 million international tourists visited the continent – around 200,000 more than in 2013. Back in 1990, Africa welcomed just 17.4 million visitors from abroad. The sector has therefore quadrupled in size in less than 15 years.
According to the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), Africa’s strong performance in 2014 (up 4%) makes it one of the world’s fastest-growing tourist destinations, second only to Southeast Asia (up 6%).
Africa’s top 3 tourist destinations in 2014
Two North African countries top the list of most-visited countries in Africa. Egypt experienced the strongest growth in the sector in 2014, with 454,000 more international arrivals than in 2013, an increase of 5% in just one year. Second on the list is Morocco, which once again recorded more than 10 million incoming international tourists in 2014 – an increase of 236,000 when compared with the previous year. In third place is Côte d’Ivoire, in West Africa. The country is experiencing a strong economic recovery. Although it recorded “only” 91,000 more international arrivals in 2014 than in 2013, this figure represents a 24% rise in just 12 months. This double-digit growth provides yet further evidence of the country’s vast tourism potential.
This influx of tourists means more money coming into the continent. In 2014, Africa recorded US $43.6 billion in revenue. According to the UK’s World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC), the international tourism sector now accounts for 8.1% of Africa’s total GDP.
More tourists also mean more jobs. Across the continent, there are around 20 million people working directly or indirectly for the tourism industry. This means that the sector accounts for 7.1% of all jobs in Africa. Jobs supported by the sector include guides, hotel staff, interpreters, aviation staff and small businesses. Yet the economic impact of tourism extends beyond job creation.
The hospitality sector is experiencing particularly rapid growth and is expanding into new countries such as Mauritania, which have, until now, remained largely on the fringes. According to the report, it is Sub-Saharan Africa, rather than North Africa, that is benefiting most from the expansion of hotel chains and the corresponding increase in the number of available rooms. Nigeria, the continent’s most populous country, comes top of the rankings in this respect, followed by Egypt and Morocco. However, the biggest hotel development project in Sub-Saharan Africa can be found in Equatorial Guinea, in the Grand Hotel Oyala Kempinski, which, when complete, will feature 451 rooms.
A wealth of attractions and initiatives
Africa boasts a rich variety of attractions that draw in tourists from around the world. The continent has a wealth of archaeological sites and historic monuments, such as pyramids (Egypt), cave churches (Ethiopia), Robben Island (South Africa), Gorée Island (Senegal) and cave paintings (Tassili N’Ajjer in Algeria and Tsodilo in Botswana). It is also a place of stunning landscapes and scenery, boasting attractions such as Victoria Falls, the Sahara, Namib and Kalahari deserts, picturesque coastlines, mountains, plains, tropical rainforests and bush ecosystems – home to exceptional plants and wildlife and flourishing small businesses.
Recent years have seen the launch of numerous initiatives, across the continent, to attract more tourists. The report is particularly complimentary about recent simplifications to the visa system and regional cooperation mechanisms, including the introduction of the e-visa and the single visa scheme, enabling tourists to visit all Southern African Development Community (SADC) member states using just one visa. Other examples include the “KAZA” (Kavango Zambezi) common tourist visa developed by Zambia and Zimbabwe, and the single visa covering three countries (Kenya, Uganda and Rwanda) launched by the East African Community (EAC) in February 2014. According to the report, these visa simplification schemes and initiatives could boost tourism revenue and job creation by between 5% and 25%.
Vast potential yet to be fully exploited
Transport infrastructure and services is one of the key constraints limiting growth of the tourism sector. As the report indicates, “Journeys in the African continent are not always seamless”. In fact, it is more difficult – and more expensive – to travel across Africa than to get there from Europe, America or the Middle East.
The New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) launched its Tourism Action Plan back in 2004, with a view to developing sustainable tourism. This followed the ratification, in 2000, of the Yamoussoukro Decision (named after the city in Côte d’Ivoire where it was adopted in 1999), which aimed to open up the continent’s aviation sector to competition. More than a decade on, however, neither initiative has been fully implemented. Yet effective application of the Yamoussoukro Decision, also known as “Open Skies for Africa”, would alone create 155,000 new jobs and contribute US $1.3 billion to the continent’s GDP.
The report also points to other barriers to tourism sector development in Africa, including a lack of dedicated incentive policies, the need for closer regional cooperation, weaknesses in infrastructure and security problems.
Security issues have posed a particular problem for the sector since 2013, especially in North Africa, Mali and coastal regions of Kenya. The report indicates that, of the 80 countries for which travel warnings were issued by the US State Department, 30 were located in Africa. Moreover, although the 2013-2014 Ebola virus outbreak only affected West Africa, it created a climate of fear that spread to many other countries on the continent – even those far from the source of the outbreak.
Many of Africa’s iconic species – animals that attract tourists from across the globe – are on the brink of extinction. According to the report, poaching and the illegal trade in protected species have reached unprecedented levels. The authors call on African countries to recognise the economic value of their wildlife and to strengthen data production capacities in this area. The report goes on to explain that, as well as their effect on the economy, these illegal activities also have a damaging impact on biodiversity.
Although international tourism is on the rise in Africa, the continent currently accounts for just 5.8% of the world’s incoming tourists and 3.5% of global revenue in the sector. As such, the sector still has vast untapped potential – potential that, if exploited, could kick-start rapid economic growth.
Download a copy of Africa Tourism Monitor 2015 here.
For more in-depth facts and figures and a more detailed overview, including infographics, visit Tourism Data for Africa, an online portal developed by AfDB, New York University’s Africa House and ATA.
The competition for the 2015 World Responsible Tourism Awards at WTM has started in earnest as the longlist of organizations vying for the top spot at WTM in London this November is announced.
The 206 tourism businesses, organisations and initiatives come from a record 69 countries worldwide and with the inclusion of the International Association of Antarctica Tour Operators in the longlist this year, 2015 is the first year the World Responsible Tourism Awards at WTM Longlist encompasses every continent on the planet.
Among the list are the winners of the recent Irish Responsible Tourism Awards and African Responsible Tourism Awards at WTM Africa,
the first two regional schemes in the World Responsible Tourism Awards at WTM family. Having already impressed the judges at a regional level with a range of inspirational, leading efforts in responsible tourism, these organisations are now going forward to compete on the world stage.
Justin Francis, Awards founder and managing director of organisers Responsible Travel comments: “The incredible variety of organisations which have made it through to the longlist this year demonstrates just how widely recognised and important responsible tourism is becoming around the world.
“We’re looking at everything from individual hotels and tiny local organisations to tourism giants such as TUI and Virgin Atlantic.
“Each and every one of these organisations is playing an important role in championing responsible tourism – the submission forms have given us an exciting taste of what they are doing and we’re looking forward to discovering more about their unique and inspirational stories”.
World Travel Market, Senior Director, Simon Press says: “The World Responsible Tourism Awards are a central pillar to World Responsible Tourism Day, the largest day of responsible tourism action around the globe.
“The awards act as an inspiration to the industry demonstrating what can be achieved with a focus on responsible tourism. The variety of companies, both big and small and from all around the world, on the 2015 long list demonstrates the industry’s commitment to protecting the environments it promotes.”
The longlisted organisations will now be put through their paces with the Awards customary rigourous questioning, which will then be shared with the judging team. Chair of Judges, Professor Harold Goodwin says “We have had an extraordinarily strong response to the Awards this year, both in terms of numbers and quality of submissions.
“This is now the longlisted organisations’ opportunity to really demonstrate to us in detail what they are achieving in responsible tourism.
“Not all of the organisations below will make the cut and when it meets in July, the judging team will be looking for only the most innovative and inspirational examples of responsible tourism in practice to put forward as the 2015 shortlist”.
The independent judging team will debate and make their own decision as to the winners, based on the evidence and information provided to them. Any support or otherwise for the longlisted organisations can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The World Responsible Tourism Awards at WTM shortlist will be announced in July 2015, with the winners announced in a ceremony on 4th November 2015 on World Responsible Tourism Day at WTM in London, part of the world’s largest event for responsible tourism action.
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Tanzania National Parks (TANAPA) received the 2014 “Development of Responsible Tourism within the Continent” Award from the Africa Travel Association (ATA) at the 39th Annual ATA World Congress, Kampala, Uganda, November 12-16. The distinguished award was presented by Her Excellency Janet Museveni, First Lady of the Republic of Uganda, and Edward Bergman, ATA Executive Director. Ibrahim Mussa, Director of Tourism and Marketing, Tanzania National Parks accepted the award on behalf of TANAPA.
Allan Kijazi, Director General, Tanzania National Parks, in thanking ATA for the Award, said: “Tanzania National Parks is honored to be recognized for our commitment to conservation and sustainable tourism development. TANAPA will continue to preserve the beauty and natural resources of Tanzania’s 16 National Parks to share with future generations of visitors from Africa and around the globe.”
Established in 1959 with Serengeti National Park as Tanzania’s first national park, Tanzania National Parks (TANAPA) has expanded to 16 national parks. Conservation of eco-systems in all areas designated as national parks is the core business of the organization. Tanzania National Parks manages and regulates the use of areas designated as National Parks to preserve the country’s heritage, encompassing natural and cultural resources, both tangible and intangible resource values, including the fauna and flora, wildlife habitat, natural processes, wilderness quality and scenery therein and to provide for human benefit and enjoyment of the same in such manner and by such means as will leave them unimpaired for future generations.
TANAPA is a member of The Africa Travel Association, the leading global trade association promoting travel and tourism to Africa and strengthening intra-Africa partnerships. Established in 1975, ATA serves both the public and private sectors of the international travel and tourism industry.
ATA’s annual events in the USA and across Africa bring together industry leaders to shape Africa’s tourism agenda and to stay up-to-date on Africa’s latest tourism trends, issues and products.
Source: eTurbo News