According to INSEE, tourism is defined as all the activities carried out by people during their travels and stays in places located outside their usual environment for a period that does not exceed one year, for the purposes of leisure, business and other reasons. We continue to speak of tourism when these reasons and matters have no connection, in the places of visit, with a remunerated activity.
The word tourism also designates an economic sector which includes, in addition to the hotel industry, all activities related to travel and the satisfaction of tourists.
Different types of tourism
In practice, there are as many types of tourism as there are centers of interest for humans. We could thus distinguish:
- Cultural tourism: with the aim of discovering the history or art of a region or a place
- Consumer tourism: these are tours organized with the aim of obtaining products from elsewhere
- Training tourism which is associated with studies
- Gastronomic tourism: for the discovery and tasting of the traditional cuisine of the targeted place
- Ecological tourism based on contact with nature in a non-invasive way
- Adventure tourism: for extreme sports enthusiasts
- Religious tourism: for visiting historic sites and events related to religion
- Space tourism, the new sector that organizes space travel for civilians.
Why is tourism promising in Africa?
In 1990, Africa had just over 17 million visitors a year. According to the UNWTO (World Tourism Organization), in 2018, Africa received the visit of 67 million tourists, an increase of 7% compared to 2017. International and local investors were attracted by the strong growth of the tourist economy in recent decades. Africa is thus the second largest tourist destination in the world after Southeast Asia.
The British organization “World Travel & Tourism Council” (WTTC) says international tourism accounts for 8.1% of Africa’s GDP. In addition, the growth of tourism creates jobs (7.1% of jobs in Africa are in the tourism sector, i.e. 20 million people) and also contributes to the increase in the income of countries thanks in particular to the expenditure made. by tourists for their accommodation, food and nutrition, entertainment, gifts and souvenirs etc. Although globally, tourism receipts represent only 3.5% and tourist arrivals stand at 5.8%, tourism has significant potential for growth, with likely significant economic benefits. .
What attracts tourists to Africa the most?
Tourists are generally attracted by the historical and cultural heritage of certain countries, such as Egypt with its pyramids or Morocco and its city Chefchaouen; the beaches, the natural parks and the breathtaking landscapes like in South Africa; the multiplicity of animal and plant species which make Madagascar unique; safari trails like in Namibia; colonial architecture in Mozambique; Malawi’s marine ecosystem for lovers of hiking and scuba diving; the security of Rwanda; Cape Verdean gastronomy etc.
Investing in the tourism sector in Africa
Investing in tourism requires a real promotion of tourism investment. Indeed, the sector faces many difficulties. The lack of infrastructure or sometimes the poor condition of already existing infrastructure; unstable security with wars, terrorist attacks and recurring kidnappings; political instabilities; the scarcity of a skilled workforce capable of meeting the challenges and issues of future investments; serious health crises (among other Ebola epidemics) are some of the factors hampering the expansion of activity. However, investing remains relevant as governments increasingly put in place policies to create an enabling environment for the sector to expand.
Some investment poles
Some Africans know very little about their country. Domestic tourism, that is to say that carried out by Africans themselves within their country is very little practiced, this is due in particular to the high transport costs. This is one part of the business that could be exploited.
The training of a skilled workforce
It has been observed that the large hotel groups present on the continent are generally run by Westerners, African expertise is almost non-existent. The need for training is more than essential.
Africa needs to develop flagship tourist attractions and create a personalized brand, according to a McKinsey report. From a cultural point of view, for example, festivals attract a lot of tourists who are passionate about cooking, cinema (like film festivals in Burkina Faso) or even fashion. In sport, the World Cup in South Africa had attracted more than 300,000 foreign visitors.
Transport, through the development of specific air, rail and road networks
There are very few airlines and the costs are higher or lower depending on the destinations and the social class of the tourist.
The infrastructure is insufficient and does not always meet international standards. There are certainly a few large hotel groups, but they charge very high prices. Less “posh”, quality structures adapted to a large slice of purchasing power could be welcome.
The activity of tour operators
50-70% of tourists wishing to visit Africa use the services of a tour operator. He takes care of the administrative formalities (visa application, reservations for accommodation, planning of the stay, etc.). Contact is made via a website. Developing suitable platforms and creating local employment is appropriate.
Tourism has good days in Africa. The significant and untapped potential leaves the possibility for those who best understand the context of each specificity of this sector to invest profitably.