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Tackling the Booming African Tourism Sector

Having a middle class society one out of three Africa is expected to host 64 million international visitors in 2017 according to the latest Jumia Travel Hospitality Report Africa. Although this an encouraging progress compared to the 58 million visitors last year the continent is expected to hit a milestone by 2027 hosting 110 million visitors the research revealed.

Being the second most populated continent Africa is also moving forward easing travel barriers to motivate its citizens to travel within the continent. Africa has been the favourite among leisure and business travellers who come to do business and explore its natural and ancient heritages. Still the domestic spending leads at 63.7% in comparison to 36.3% foreign visitors. The continent possess more than 130 UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Africa with Ethiopia, Morocco and Egypt among the most UNESCO heritage sights in Africa. The continent is also going digital improving connectivity and coverage. At the moment, there are nearly 345 million internet users in Africa, representing 9.3% of the total population and penetration rate of 27.7%. Lack of digital skills remains a major barrier to mobile internet adoption especially in Sub-Saharan Africa. Experts suggest that supporting digital literacy by all stakeholders in the continent is an essential element in promoting e-tourism and economic development in Africa.

Although the continent has introduced best airlines over the years including the globally renowned Air Mauritius, Ethiopian Airlines, Kenya Airways, TAAG Angola Airlines, Kulula of South Africa the continent managed to attract only 3% of the world’s air traffic. International Air Transport Association (IATA) forecasted there is a growth coming at 4.8% increment in passenger numbers in the next 5 years starting 2017. This is due to growth of international flights.  The progress is also expected to solve the high cost problem that is hindering travel in the continent beside visa constraints. The continent heavily invested in infrastructure to fill the gap of a huge deficit and to develop skilled human power it’s facing terrorism challenges that has affected Africa’s economy and tourism sector since 2015. Countries such as Kenya, Tunisia, Mali, Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire, Egypt and Nigeria has been adversely affected by terrorism attacks.

Working towards the challenges tourism industry operators are optimist that the future of Africa’s tourism and development initiatives are so much brighter. One who strongly agrees with the bright future of the continent is Tewolde Gebremariam CEO of Ethiopian Airlines. It’s a very exciting time for African aviation industry he says. However, Africa is still contributing little to the global aviation industry with only 3% as compared to all global traffic. Nevertheless, the growth is very encouraging. With more investments coming to the continent from China and India which is expected to drive the continent’s development; air traffic in Africa is also expected to grow. In Africa air transport is the most viable means of transport as others are very under developed he added.

The CEO further elaborated that among the many challenges facing the aviation sector is lack of the necessary attention from African head of states as it has always been considered a luxurious means of transport. Others include high taxation levied at times equal to cigarettes and alcoholic beverages, low connectivity within the continent, and expensive jet fuel with a cost 30% higher in Africa than the rest of the world; as well as infrastructure problems and expensive services. These results in high operation costs which are then transferred to the customers, making air transport unaffordable by many thus creating a vicious circle of challenges. However, despite these challenges, progress of the industry has to do with good safety records that has improved over the last few years. Today, many African airlines including Ethiopian airlines, South African Airways, Egypt Air, Kenya Airways, Air Morocco, Tunisiair, and TAAG Angola meet the global standards of safety records. Connectivity has also increased especially between African countries and the rest of the world. Indeed Jumia Travel Africa Hospitality research revealed the same.  Tourism’s contribution to Africa’s GDP was 7.8% (USD 165.6bn) in 2016, and is expected to rise to 7.9% of GDP to USD 170.5bn 2017. This contribution is predicted to grow by 4.6% to reach a staggering USD 268.2bn by 2027.
Tackling the Booming African Tourism Sector Tackling the Booming African Tourism Sector Reviewed by IFEDAYO AKINWALERE on 8:22:00 am Rating: 5