Tourism in Africa on the Rise – Report

Tourism is on the rise in Africa but has not yet reached its full potential, prostate according to the 2015 edition of the Africa Tourism Monitor.

The report, produced annually by the AfDB, New York University’s Africa House and the Africa Travel Association, provides an overview of the trends and issues facing the tourism sector in Africa, and discusses its potential as an engine for economic growth and development.

According to the report, in 2014 a total of 65.3 million international tourists visited the continent.

Over 200,000 visitors were received in 2013. Back in 1990, Africa welcomed just 17.4 million visitors from abroad.

The sector has therefore quadrupled in size in less than 15 years.

The World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) says Africa’s strong performance in 2014 (up 4 percent) makes it one of the world’s fastest-growing tourist destinations, second only to Southeast Asia (up 6 percent).

Africa’s top 3 tourist destinations in 2014 according to the report were Egypt, Morocco and Côte d’Ivoire.

Egypt experienced the strongest growth in the sector in 2014, with 454,000 more international arrivals than in 2013, an increase of 5 percent in just one year.


Morocco came in second position with a record of 10 million incoming international tourists.

Côte d’Ivoire is experiencing a strong economic recovery.  Although it recorded  91,000 more international arrivals in 2014 than in 2013, this figure represents a 24 percent rise in just 12 months.

This influx of tourists means more money coming into the continent.

In 2014, Africa recorded US $43.6 billion in revenue.

According to the UK’s World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC), the international tourism sector now accounts for 8.1 percent of Africa’s total GDP.

More tourists also mean more jobs. Across the continent, there are around 20 million people working directly or indirectly for the tourism industry.

This means that the sector accounts for 7.1 percent of all jobs in Africa. Jobs supported by the sector include guides, hotel staff, interpreters, aviation staff and small businesses. Yet the economic impact of tourism extends beyond job creation.

The hospitality sector is experiencing particularly rapid growth and is expanding into new countries such as Mauritania, which have, until now, remained largely on the fringes.

According to the report, it is Sub-Saharan Africa, rather than North Africa, that is benefiting most from the expansion of hotel chains and the corresponding increase in the number of available rooms.

A wealth of attractions and initiatives

Africa boasts a rich variety of attractions that draw in tourists from around the world.

The continent has a wealth of archaeological sites and historic monuments, such as pyramids (Egypt), cave churches (Ethiopia), Robben Island (South Africa), Gorée Island (Senegal) and cave paintings (Tassili N’Ajjer in Algeria and Tsodilo in Botswana).

It is also a place of stunning landscapes and scenery, boasting attractions such as Victoria Falls, the Sahara, and Kalahari deserts, picturesque coastlines, mountains, plains, tropical rain forests and bush ecosystems; home to exceptional plants and wildlife and flourishing small businesses.

Vast potential yet to be fully exploited

Transport infrastructure and services is one of the key constraints limiting growth of the tourism sector. As the report indicates, Journeys in the African continent are not always seamless.

The report also points to other barriers to tourism sector development in Africa, including a lack of dedicated incentive policies, the need for closer regional cooperation, weaknesses in infrastructure and security problems.

Security issues have posed a particular problem for the sector since 2013, especially in North Africa, Mali and coastal regions of Kenya.

The report indicates that, of the 80 countries for which travel warnings were issued by the US State Department, 30 were located in Africa.

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