Africa’s tourism sector has registered immense growth to the effect that it is now the second fastest growing tourism industry in the world. The fastest growing region is Asia Pacific.
The numbers that have been coming to Africa signal an improving tourism sector that still needs more bolstering to record more and more growth.
In 2018, 67 million international tourist arrivals were recorded across the continent. This meant a 7% increase from 2017 where Africa received 63 million tourist arrivals. In 2016, the number stood at 58 million tourist arrivals. The apparent increase in tourist arrivals sends a message that Africa is continuously becoming a favorite destination for tourists.
The improvement is attributed to a combination of affordability and ease of travel within the continent. A change to positive policies as regards to investment in the sector is another factor that has made Africa a preferable attraction to tourists.
This information contained in the Jumia Africa Hospitality Report points to concerted efforts in policy changes so that Africa is an easy continent to navigate, especially in regards to leisure travel.
Ethiopia, for instance, relaxed its visa restrictions while at the same time improving flight connectivity. As a result, Addis Ababa has become the gateway to Africa because of these changes. When it comes to conferences and exhibitions, Kenya, Rwanda, and South Africa have made strides to position themselves as favorable destinations to this effect.
Jumia’s Head of Travel, Estelle Verdier said, “Our focus is to continue showcasing Africa as a continent full of beauty and opportunity. Through this report, we want to help draw attention to the vast potential of the tourism industry, that we believe is an untapped lever of economic growth.”
The implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area (ACFTA) is also expected to strengthen domestic travel.
“To realize the full potential gains will require cooperation from all industry players. Governments have to be willing to eliminate visa requirements for African nationals traveling to their countries. Ministries and other responsible partner organizations should create campaigns that will promote their local travel destinations and tourism offerings to attract more regional travelers. At Jumia, we will continue to offer diversified products at affordable prices including resident rates for regional travelers booking through our platform.”
However, Africa’s overall position in the global tourism industry still has much room for improvement. Only 5% of international tourist arrivals were to African countries. This is despite the fact that the industry contributes 8.5% of the GDP (in 2018), equivalent to $194.2 billion, employing 24.3 million people on the continent.
But with the improvement noted, one can always be optimistic that in the few coming years, combined with a healthy and favorable policies, tourism in Africa will become a giant.