WTTC highlights tourism growth potential of Africa

The growth of travel and tourism in Africa should outpace the rest of the world over the next decade, according to a new report by the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC).

The WTTC forecasts the value of travel and tourism in Africa will rise by 5.1% per year to $300 billion by 2033, beating both the long-term global rate of growth rate for travel of 4% a year and the forecast 3% annual growth in African GDP.

The report, ‘Unlocking Opportunities for Travel and Tourism Growth in Africa’, suggests that growth will lead to the creation of almost 13 million jobs, taking the total in the sector in Africa to 36.4 million.

However, the WTTC argues the industry’s growth in the continent could be higher, reaching 6.5% a year and contributing $350 billion to economies, if governments aligned their policies and removed barriers to growth.

Speaking at the WTTC Global Summit in Kigali, Rwanda, WTTC president and chief executive Julia Simpson said: “Africa is full of potential. But it needs to address a few pressing challenges – limited air connectivity, skills shortages, the environmental footprint and negative perceptions.”

She said: “Policymakers need to focus on connectivity, streamline visa processes and address skills shortages and training.”

The report calculates Africa’s travel and tourism was worth $186 billion in 2019 or 7% of the continent’s economy and supported 25 million jobs, about one in six of the total, with international visitors contributing 43% of spending.

The WTTC estimates the sector in Africa recovered sufficiently from the pandemic to record almost $184 billion in revenue this year, less than 2% below 2019’s figure, and support close to 24 million jobs.

It notes investment in African travel and tourism rose faster than the global average between 2000 and 2019, increasing from $11 billion a year to $40 billion, when global investment in the sector doubled over the same period from $559 billion to $1,000 billion.

Simpson argued: “Africa’s travel and tourism sector has witnessed an extraordinary transformation. In just two decades, it has more than doubled in value, significantly contributing to the continent’s economy.

“The growth potential for travel and tourism in Africa is massive.”

But she said: “Africa needs simplified visa processes, better air connectivity within the continent, and marketing campaigns to highlight the wealth of attractions.”

The report was produced in collaboration with visa, passport and consular services provide VFS Global, whose chief executive Zubin Karkaria said: “This report not only highlights the diverse prospects for economic growth, sustainable tourism, and cross-cultural collaboration [in Africa] but also provides insights for governments to formulate policies and offers businesses a roadmap for expansion in this thriving market.”

VFS already partners with 38 governments in Africa.

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