Tourism delivers jobs, something African countries need above all else if they are to make a success of their growing demographics. So how is the continent faring? It is improving but is far from reaching its potential, according to a 2016 United Nations World Tourism Organisation report, the continent of Africa recorded 53.5 million international tourist arrivals in 2015, up from 50.4 million in 2010, but was still slightly lower than 2014’s 55.3 million. The continent secured $33 billion in tourism receipts in 2015, with 3 percent of global market share in terms of revenue and 5 percent in terms of tourist numbers.
Compared with France’s 84.5 million visitors in 2015, the potential for growth in African tourism is clear. Africa’s leading lights are investing in both their hosting infrastructure and their marketing campaigns. They are clearly seeing the payback, and South Africa remains the continent’s heavyweight. “Tourism contributed 3 percent to the increase of nominal gross domestic product (GDP) growth in 2016 and created 575 000 new jobs in 2015 and 730 000 in 2016,” says Bashni Muthaya, the regional director for southern Europe for South African Tourism.
A new report released by the United Nations (UN) documented a dramatic leap in African tourism. The report from the UN Conference on Trade and Development states that Africa’s international visitors increased on average by 6% every year between 1995 and 2014. Angola’s tourist industry was classified as contributing somewhere between 5% and 9.9% to the continent’s overall tourist industry between 2011 and 2014. The countries that contributed the most growth were Cabo Verde, Seychelles, and Mauritius.
The UN called 2017 the year of sustainable tourism and development in Africa. But beyond lofty proclamations, the report presents the reality of job growth due to the tourism industry. Tourism generated an average of 21 million jobs between 2011 and 2014, or 7.1% of all the continent’s jobs.
Anyone who lives in a place frequented by tourists, like Angola, knows that locals may rarely visit places, which are favorites for tourists. While the destination may provide employment, an item of the UN Sustainable Development Goals states that tourism should also generate “local promotion of culture,” which also involves including local people beyond the realms of employment. In 2015, the last year the report documented, Angola hosted nearly 1,000 tourists. The percentage of the number of tourists increased annually in almost each interval recorded, with the exception of the interval that included 2014, where West African countries took a hit, likely because of the Ebola epidemic. Strenuous Visa requirements are among reasons that inter-continental travel can be difficult for citizens of African countries. Though Angola announced that it would drop visa requirements for other Africans last year, it is still easier in other countries for citizens of Western countries to get visas than fellow Africans, a BBC report pointed out.
In Angola, there is a growing awareness of the importance of tourism as support for the development of the country. The potential for growth in Angolan tourism is clear. Angola’s leading lights are investing in both their hosting infrastructure and their marketing campaigns.