The African continent is home to many cultural and natural resources conducive to the development of the tourism sector. However, its potential is little exploited. This sector of activity is mainly considered as a major lever for the development of populations. Many states also see it as an economic development alternative. Tourism receipts represent a significant source of income for Africa.
The tourism sector in Africa
Thanks to its dynamism, the African continent is experiencing a steady increase in tourist attendance. Africa is now positioned as the second largest tourist destination in the world, followed by Southeast Asia. His goal ? “Unlocking Africa’s Tourism Potential”.
Which countries are popular with tourists? Morocco, Egypt and South Africa which register nearly 10 million visitors per year, followed by Tunisia and Zimbabwe.
The growth of tourism implies additional income: the expenditure of tourists for their accommodation, drinks, food, entertainment, etc. This additional revenue is around $ 48 billion.
The British organization “World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC),” claims that international tourism represents 8.1% of Africa’s GDP. This dynamic sector has also made it possible to create jobs: air personnel, guides, interpreters, etc. Over 20 million people work in the tourism sector, which represents 7.1% of jobs in Africa.
Regardless of the type of country, tourism plays an important role in the GDP. Cape Verde, for example, benefits from 30% of GDP from the tourism sector. These figures can be explained in part by sporting events and forums which are now taking place more in Africa.
As for inter-African tourism, it still remains very marginal. One of the reasons for this is the problems associated with visa requirements to travel from one African country to another. The African Development Bank stresses the importance of creating a common passport for all of Africa.
In addition to this problem, there is the lack of reliable data. To overcome this problem, the AfDB has set up the Africa Tourism Data Portal, which allows tourism professionals to access national and international tourism data. Not to mention the difficulties in making direct air journeys between nearby or even bordering countries. To boost tourism within Africa, ICTs must play a major role.
The exploitation of the tourism industry would allow Africa to compete with the most touristic areas of the world. However, to achieve this, national governments must collaborate with the various actors of the private sector involved in order to remove the obstacles that hinder the development of tourism. It is essential that Africa can develop tourism opportunities, boost job creation and transform the economic landscape.
What are the obstacles preventing the development of tourism?
There are different types of barriers to tourism on the African continent. One of the main reasons is the difficulty of traveling within Africa associated with relatively high costs.
The development of the tourism sector is also hampered by a lack of dedicated incentive policies, insufficient and obsolete infrastructure, a lack of regional cooperation and recurring health problems such as the Ebola fever suffered by South Africa. Where is.
In addition, since 2013, the tourism sector has suffered from a climate of insecurity which has been exacerbated since 2013, as in Kenya, Ivory Coast and Mali. The US State Department has issued travel advisories for 80 countries, 30 of them African.
Towards a simplification of the visa procedure?
In recent years, various initiatives have been put in place to encourage tourists to go to the African continent. This concerns in particular the simplification of the procedures for obtaining a visa. Now all you need is one visa to travel to the Southern African Development Community (SADC) space. This measure also serves to highlight the regional cooperation that has been established between the different countries concerned.
In addition, the “Kaza” visa allows tourists to visit both Zimbabwe and Zambia. In addition, the East African Community has also initiated the creation of a joint visa between Kenya, Rwanda and Uganda. These facilitation programs are sources of job creation. They also make it possible to generate higher revenues than those obtained before the implementation of these new procedures.
Despite an increase in international tourism to Africa, the continent currently accounts for only 5.8% of tourist arrivals and 3.5% of receipts from the tourism sector globally. This sector of activity therefore has strong growth potential associated with significant economic benefits.