Tourism crucial to W/Africa’s economic growth –World Bank

The World Bank has identified Sub-Saharan Africa’s tourism industry as a major springboard for spurring more economic growth for the continent and directly employ 6.7 million people by 2021.

According to a new World Bank report released at the weekend titled, ‘Tourism in Africa: Harnessing Tourism for Growth and Improved Livelihoods’ tourism accounted directly or indirectly for one in every 20 jobs in Sub Saharan Africa in 2011, and is one of the few industries on the continent in which women are well represented as employees and managers. Sub Saharan Africa is outpacing other regions in tourism growth.

The report focused on the potential of African countries to improve and expand their tourism sector, and suggests that 33 of Sub Saharan Africa’s 48 countries currently have the capacity for tourism success through establishing strong political support for developing the industry and attracting increased private investment to help finance and sustain it.

While citing the successful experiences of countries such as Cape Verde, Kenya, Mauritius, Namibia, Rwanda, South Africa, Tanzania and others, who have simplified their tourism policies, liberalized air transport and diversified tourism while protecting their communities and environments, which created a positive investment climate for tourism development, the Bank noted that other countries’ economies’ tourism sector holds great potential for adding value to their Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

According to the World Bank Vice President for Africa, Makhtar Diop, “Africa’s private companies are increasingly attracting regional and international investment and the returns on investing in Africa are among the highest in the world.

To further explore the investment and other value-adding benefits of the sector in the various countries, Diop pointed out that in close alliance with the private sector, governments must also do their part to create better transport, electricity, infrastructure, and other key services to develop tourism for more broad-based growth and improved livelihoods.

Tourism is increasingly attracting regional and international investment, and returns on investments in the sector remain among the highest in the world.

Global hotel chains are expanding across Africa, recognizing investment potential and committing millions of dollars in new projects over the next few years to meet increased demand from both international tourists and the continent’s own fast-growing middle class.

In 2012, Africa attracted 33.8 million visitors, up from a low 6.7 million visitors in 1990, and its receipts from tourism for the same year amounted to over US$36 billion, or 2.8 percent of the region’s GDP, In 2011, global tourism contributed 9.1 percent to world GDP, 5.9 percent of worldwide exports and 4.5 percent of global investment.

Africa’s tourism revenues are rising fast and are set to contribute more and more to world activity. If developed effectively and managed efficiently over time, tourism has the potential to accelerate Africa’s economic growth and job creation.

It can also help accelerate the reforms needed to improve airline and road transport as well as other key infrastructure, besides raising the incomes of young men and women, who form a high percentage of the job holders in the sector.

In his remarks, Gaiv Tata, Director of Financial and Private Sector Development for the World Bank in Africa whose department prepared the study, argued that “for African countries looking to sustain and increase growth, tourism can be harnessed through joint public and private sector efforts to achieve growth, wealth creation and shared prosperity.”

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One Comment

  1. Mbuanza says:

    Angola is itself creating the conditions to attract more tourism. The hotel occupancy rates are already well into the 80th percentiles, even though rooms are not at all cheap. Tourism in Angola is currently business-related, but as the country is stabilising, there is an expectation for holiday travelers to pick Angola as a destination as well.

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