Tourism, like other sectors, petroleum, gas, and oil, entertainment is a vital, revenue-generating endeavor for nations and regions around the globe. Sadly, this sector, Tourism, has been given less attention by African leaders. Despite this blatant disregard, Africa has risen to become one of the most important tourist destinations globally.
When the weather in major parts of Europe, the Americas, Asia becomes snowy, Africa is a go-to destination for travelers, explorers, and tourists.
According to go2africa.com, Africa has an amazing five – out of its fifty-four countries – top global tourist attractions. This includes countries like South Africa, Botswana, Tanzania, Kenya, Mauritius, and Seychelles.
For a continent that invests minimally in tourism, this is impressive.
In 2019, Wikipedia ranked Morocco, Egypt, South Africa, Tunisia, Algeria, Zimbabwe, Ivory Coast, Botswana, Namibia, and Mozambique most visited African countries worldwide.
REVENUE GENERATED BY THE AFRICA’S TOURISM SECTOR
The tourist sector for Africa culminates yearly—and in this case, this analytics accounts for the year 2018 before the covid-19 pandemic—a sum totaling $194.2bn of the continent’s gross domestic product (GDP).
Usually, what accounts for tourism is international arrivals and, interestingly, hotel statistics. This means the number of international planes hanging on most African airports is considered and bookings for most hotels (be it five stars or four-star) according to STR.
Out of the estimated 1.4 billion tourist arrivals in 2018, according to the United Nations World Tourism Organization (U.N.W.T.O), Africa received 5%. North Africa, which says boundaries with the Middle East consisting of Algeria, Morocco, Sudan, and Tunisia, received around 2% of the worldwide tourist arrivals. Egypt is indexed as part of the Middle East by the U.N.W.T.O. Sub-Saharan Africa. The remaining African countries received around 3% of the worldwide tourist arrivals in 2018, according to BIZ.
THE IMPACT OF COVID-19 ON AFRICA’S TOURISM SECTOR
Sadly, most statistics compiled by global and national agencies like the World Health Organization (W.H.Os) only show the virus’s response. Little is known about the exact impact the virus has had on the tourism sector. Results such as these will take time. However, what is certain is that travel has taken an immense hit that may well take some time to recover. Travel to Africa dropped by an incredible 47% between January and May 2020. Few African countries can boast of half the visitors received in 2018 and 2019. Hotels lie empty, and tourist sites lack visitors. The sector has been badly battered, but there are no concise figures to quantify the damage. Africa has never really been adept at keeping records. The general focus has been on solving more imminent problems enhanced by covid-19; health, food security, and socio-economic challenges.
COVID-19 EFFECT GLOBALLY AND IN AFRICA.
According to the United Nations, World Tourism Organization (U.N.W.T.O), countries like the Gambia and Guinea Bissau are among African countries that stand to lose the most from the global dip in the tourism industry. Neither are women unaffected. Women who make up more than half of the global tourism workforce have faced a greater risk of being unemployed. It is estimated that the pandemic has cost the tourism industry anything between US$910 billion to US$1.1 trillion.
PLAN ON DIVERSIFYING AND RECOVERY.
The United Nations World Trade Organization (U.N.W.T.O), in collaboration with the World Health Organization (W.H.O), launched its Healing Solutions Global Tourism Challenge. This initiative’s primary objective will focus on issues concerning the pandemic, according to the Director, Regional Department of Africa U.N.W.T.O, Elicia Grandcourt.
REVAMPING THE TOURISM SECTOR GLOBALLY AND IN AFRICA
U.N.W.T.O Global Crisis Committee, created in March 2020 just after the pandemic was declared, met for the last time on the 23rd of December 2020. The endpoint of the meeting was for the rethinking of quarantining rules for tourists. They recognized a need to embrace innovation and fresh solutions for testing travelers before or after their trips.
Image Source: flickr.com UNWTO Summit
Globally, the tourist sector can’t wait – whilst monies in a large chunk are lost in revenue – for restrictions on travel to be eased. There is a consensus that the easing of air travel restriction in a responsible and coordinated manner (if safe and feasible) must be done in earnest.