February 24, 2024

Travel & tourism in Africa could boost continent’s economy over the next 10 years

3 min read

At its Global Summit in Kigali, Rwanda on 6 November, the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) – in collaboration with VFS Global – revealed that the African travel & tourism sector could add US$168 billion to the continent’s economy and create over 18 million new jobs.

According to the report, “Unlocking Opportunities for Travel & Tourism Growth in Africa”, this potential growth is dependent on three key policies to unlock annualised growth of 6.5%, reaching a contribution of more than US$350 billion.

The report includes a policy package focused on improving Africa’s growth based on air infrastructure, visa facilitation and tourism marketing.

Travel & tourism is a powerhouse sector in Africa, with a contribution of more than US$186 billion to the region’s economy in 2019, welcoming 84 million international travellers. The sector is also essential for employment, providing livelihoods to 25 million people, equating to 5.6% of all the jobs in the region.

Speaking at the global tourism body’s summit, Julia Simpson, WTTC president and CEO, said: “Africa’s travel & 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.

“Growth potential for travel & tourism in Africa is massive. It has already more than doubled since 2000, and with the right policies could unlock an additional US$168 billion in the next decade.

“Africa needs simplified visa processes, better air connectivity within the continent, and marketing campaigns to highlight the wealth of destinations in this breathtaking continent,” she added.

VFS Global is the world’s largest outsourcing and technology services specialist for governments and diplomatic missions. According to its founder and CEO Zubin Karkaria, “We are excited to partner with WTTC to uncover the extensive opportunities that travel & tourism offers in Africa. Having established our presence in Africa since 2005, we are today the trusted partner of 38 governments whom we serve across 55 cities in 35 countries in Africa. VFS Global recognises the tremendous potential of Africa and remains deeply committed to supporting the continuing development of travel and tourism to and from the continent.

“This report not only highlights the diverse prospects for economic growth, sustainable tourism and cross-cultural collaboration but also provides valuable insights for governments to formulate policies and offers businesses a well-defined roadmap for expansion in this thriving market.”

The report delves into the historical journey of the travel & tourism sector in Africa. It’s a story of facing challenges head-on, from the global financial crisis in 2008 to the setbacks caused by disease outbreaks and political instability.

Despite all these challenges, the travel & tourism sector is on a path to recovery. According to the WTTC, 2023 is projected to be a year of near-full recovery, only 1.9% shy of 2019 levels, as well as the creation of an additional near 1.8 million jobs.

Opportunities for Africa

The report highlights the opportunities for the sector, which include strategic investments improved connectivity, streamlined visa processes, reducing carbon footprint through low-carbon energy adoption, and enhancing water efficiency. These could unlock the potential for sustainable growth, job creation and economic development in the African travel & tourism sector.

Access the full report here.

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