In the next 10 years, Africa’s tourism industry is expected to create 4 million direct jobs supported with the right investment and planning policies, a new report released by World Bank.
With the breathtaking scenery, great wildlife and treasure trove of archeological, historical and cultural heritage that are unique to the African continent are the key factors in heightening the tourism of the African countries.
“Africa’s savannahs, mountains, and rivers, and cultural events including dance, music, and festivals are way beyond the natural assets seen in other regions,” stated Iain Christie, one of the report’s co-authors. “Having the said natural attributes, tourism can take part in a huge role in development. To make it happen, it must be integrated into each country’s government and economic structure and be viewed as a benefit by everyone, from the president to the ministers to the general population.”
Despite the sheer breadth of Africa riches and areas to explore, the continent remains the least visited (with the exception of Antarctica, of course) in the world.
But it’s also the fastest growing tourism destination in the world over the past two decades, albeit from a much lower base.
Within Sub-Saharan Africa, Eastern Africa has proven to be the most popular, with Southern Africa not far behind. In East Africa, Mozambique and Kenya attract 30% of the tourists to the region, while South Africa is the dominant destination in southern Africa. In West Africa, Senegal and Nigeria together account for 78% of visitors to the region.
The value of tourism to SSA economies varies widely. In 2011, tourism contributed 2.7% directly to the GDP of SSA countries, compared with 4.3% of GDP in Southeast Asia, 4.4% in the Caribbean, and 3% in the Middle East, the bank says.
“However, average regional figures fail to show the high level of dependence some countries have on tourism. For example, in the Seychelles, tourism activities account for 44% of GDP and in Mauritius tourism contributes 16% to GDP.”
East Africa is also most dependent on tourism as the sector contributes 5.5% to its GDP, while 3.4% of southern Africa’s GDP depends on the industry.
However, tourism’s contribution to the GDP of West Africa (2%) and Central Africa (1.7%) shows that those regions have barely scratched the surface of their potential.