Writes Nkeletsang Morapedi
Kigali, Rwanda: The World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC), in partnership with VFS Global, has unveiled a promising outlook for the African travel and tourism sector, with the potential to inject US$168 billion into the continent’s economy and generate over 18 million new jobs.
The report, titled ‘Unlocking Opportunities for Travel & Tourism Growth in Africa,’ emphasizes that this significant growth can be realized through the implementation of three fundamental policies, leading to annualized growth of 6.5%, culminating in a contribution of over US$350 billion.
These policies outlined in the report encompass enhancing Africa’s air infrastructure, simplifying visa facilitation processes, and launching robust tourism marketing campaigns.
Africa’s travel and tourism sector is already a formidable player, having contributed over US$186 billion to the region’s economy in 2019 and playing host to 84 million international travelers.
This sector is not only an economic powerhouse but also a vital source of employment, providing livelihoods for 25 million individuals, which accounts for 5.6% of all jobs in the region.
Speaking at the WTTC’s Global Summit in Kigali, Julia Simpson, President and CEO of WTTC, remarked, “Africa’s travel and tourism sector has undergone a remarkable transformation. In just two decades, it has more than doubled in value, making a significant contribution to the continent’s economic growth.”
Simpson also stressed the sector’s immense growth potential, asserting that it has more than doubled since 2000 and could unlock an additional US$168 billion in the next decade with the right policies.
To fulfill this potential, she highlighted the need for simplified visa processes, enhanced air connectivity within the continent, and effective marketing campaigns to showcase the wealth of destinations across this breathtaking continent.
Zubin Karkaria, Founder and CEO of VFS Global, expressed enthusiasm about the partnership with WTTC and the exploration of extensive opportunities in Africa’s travel and tourism sector. VFS Global, which has been active in Africa since 2005, serves as a trusted partner to 38 governments across 55 cities in 35 countries on the continent.
The report not only outlines prospects for economic growth, sustainable tourism, and cross-cultural collaboration but also provides valuable insights for governments to shape policies and offers businesses a clear roadmap for expansion in this thriving market.
The report delves into the sector’s historical journey in Africa, highlighting its resilience in the face of challenges, from the Global Financial Crisis in 2008 to setbacks caused by disease outbreaks and political instability. Despite these hurdles, the travel and tourism sector is on the path to recovery.
WTTC projects that 2023 will be a year of near-full recovery, coming within 1.9% of 2019 levels and resulting in the creation of nearly 1.8 million jobs.
The report underscores the sector’s opportunities, including strategic investments in improved connectivity, streamlined visa procedures, a shift to low-carbon energy sources for reduced carbon footprint, and enhanced water efficiency. These measures can unlock the potential for sustainable growth, job creation, and economic development within Africa’s travel and tourism sector.
Meanwhile, in Zimbabwe, the Minister of Tourism and Hospitality Industry, Hon Barbara Rwodzi launched the Domestic Festive Season Campaign at the Africa Unity Square, encouraging everyone to travel locally during this festive season.