Tourism Sustaining Continental Development

International tourism demand made steady progress between January and April 2015 with tourist arrivals increasing up to 4% worldwide according to the latest the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) report. Almost all continents enjoyed strong growth which is forecasted to grow hosting close to 500 million tourists expected to travel overseas.

Global popular destinations such Europe received 332 million overnight international visitors between January and April 2015 which is 14 million more tourists than the same period last year. This follows an increase of 4.3% in 2014 and consolidates the growing trend of international tourism. Since 2010, international tourist arrivals has seen an average of 4.5% growth rate.

America led the inbound tourist growth with 6%, followed by Europe, Asia, the Pacific and the Middle East, which recorded up to 5% arrivals. In Africa, number of visitors weakened since 2014 after years of consistent growth. The decline is mainly due to the Ebola epidemic among other challenges. Current data points to a 6% decline, as African destinations struggle to recover from the misperceptions affecting the continent following the outbreak. Poor infrastructures also lag the the African continent far behind than the rest of the world.

Although Africa accounts for 15% of the world population, it receives only about 3% of world tourism,” says Mthuli Ncube, African Development Bank Group Vice-President and Chief Economist. To maximize Africa’s untapped tourism potential, investments are needed in key infrastructure sectors such as in transport, energy, water and telecommunications.

Tremendous opportunities exist to develop tourism across the African continent. The economic potential of tourism generated 8.2 million jobs in 2012. According to UNWTO, 63.6 million international tourists arrived in Africa in 2012. The lion share of this benefits went to Egypt, South Africa, Morocco, Tunisia, Tanzania, and Mauritius which are inserting a huge chunk of tourism cash into their economy.

It’s remarkable to observe the African tourism sector prevailing over infrastructural challenges and other hindrances. Now the continent is reclaiming its tourist numbers by improving in every aspect said Estelle Verdier, Managing Director of in East and Southern Africa. This blooming initiative is supported by African leaders who are giving deserved attention to this lucrative sector as part of their socio-economic developments policies.

The UNWTO forecast shows the global tourism will continue to grow by 3.8% in the coming five years. This comes as good news for Africa as it strives to develop its infrastructure. Certainly the future of tourism in Africa holds great potential, however its expansion and development depends on better infrastructure developments including hotel constructions, airline networks, roads and railway expansions. These coupled with the continent’s rich cultural heritage puts Africa on the path to hosting more leisure and business visitors in the years to come.

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