The tourism sector as part of globalization phenomenon increased spatial linkages between places and people from different locations. This global closeness enabled African countries to increase their revenues, foreign currency earnings, tourism facilities and services meeting international standards.
Globalization promoted African cultures and contributed to the preservation of historical monuments and sites. Development in aspects of technology and improvements in transportation and telecommunications services also made global travel shortened in terms of time and distance bringing large number of visitors to the growing continent.
The number of tourists arriving in Sub Saharan African countries grew by over 300% since 1990, with 2012 marking the highest number of 33.8 million tourists. Income produced from tourism has also climbed from hotels, tour agents and other attractions on the same period generating over $36 billion. The sector directly contributes to over 2.8% of the region GDP according to the World Bank.
This boost in tourism is occurring as economic growth is exploding across Africa. Over the last five years, real GDP rose by an average of 4.9% faster than the 3% global average. Investment in chain hotels also increased to meet the demand of the rising number of international visitors and domestic travelers.
The geographical widening of relations between places has become a major factor in the development of international tourism, creating more global flows of tourists and competition. The long-established trickles of tourists popularize even the most distant corners of the globe allowing countries to reap the benefits that accrue from tourism.
Africa is a dynamic emerging continent with untapped market opportunities attracting many investors attention bolstering tourism revenue creating evident path to development said Estelle Verdier, Managing Director of Jovago.com in East and Southern Africa. Countries need to invest in promotion and marketing to deepen their income from the sector attracting not only tourists but also investors who would invest on infrastructural expansion filling the gaping hole of infrastructural shortage in the continent.
Following economic growth the influence of domestic and international travel and trade has become greater than it used to be increasing the worldwide business and trade. The globalized economy has played a critical role in bringing about changes in business tourism. As trade and foreign direct investments require travel, they have undoubtedly contributed to growth of the business in tourism.The growth of international tourism and the increased movement of tourists have been fundamentally facilitated by shift to free markets says the World Tourism Organization (WTO). The removal of trade barriers along with improvements in infrastructure have fundamentally facilitated the growth and movement of international tourists and tourism.
On the other hand process of globalization has significantly been advanced through technological developments in long range aircrafts, the internet, online reservations systems and e-commerce. These new opportunities for business and trade has been opened up by mobile easy to use services. Advances in e-commerce and card payments enabled tourism products to be one of the most traded items on the internet.
Information technology (IT) has particularly revolutionized the organization and management of tourist businesses simplifying service delivery mechanisms. The internet also play important development part underpinning the process of globalization. It’s tended to make national boundaries invisible, thus extending the ability of potential travellers to reach out across the globe in search of new travel information and opportunities.
Currently most of the international and regional agencies, airlines, hotels as well as many travel associations and public sector bodies have their own websites aimed at promoting tourism around the world. International companies working on tourism such as Jovago.com, Accor, Aban Offshore also connected countries online. The growing usage of social media sites also greatly facilitated rapid global dispersal of information promoting most exotic destinations of the world. This has reinforced the role of social media in connecting communities living in different destinations.
Harnessing tourism with the globalized economy Africa can compete with other tourist rich regions of the world integrating tourism into their economies.