Travel and tourism in Africa grew by 5.6% in 2018 compared to the global average of 3.9% and the broader African economic growth rate of 3.2%, according to the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC).
This makes Africa the second-fastest growing tourism region. Asia-Pacific is the fastest growing.
According to the WTTC, the growth in Africa is partly explained by North Africa’s rebound from security crises as well as the development and implementation of policies that promote travel facilitation.
Research by the WTTC shows that in 2018 travel and tourism contributed $194.2bn to the Africa’s economy, representing 8.5% of the continent’s gross domestic product (GDP). The sector furthermore contributes 6.7% of total employment on the continent.
About 71% of tourism spending across Africa was leisure-driven and 29% business by nature.
Domestic spending accounted for 56% of the tourism economy versus 44% for international.
International tourism spending comprised 9.6% of Africa’s total exports, worth $58.5bn.
In 2018 the WTTC hosted its first ever Africa Leaders Forum in Stellenbosch, South Africa, recognising the increasing significance and power of this great region’s travel economy.
WTTC president Gloria Guevara commends tourism leaders in Africa who are helping to boost connectivity, promote travel facilitation and ensure traveller safety.
“All of these measures make for supreme growth, the kind of growth that we are now witnessing across the continent and that provides millions of good jobs,” she said.
In January this year the WTTC released a report which concluded that the future of travel and tourism will be shaped by those companies and destinations which provide unique and meaningful experiences, harness the power of networks, provide a personal service to sustainability-minded consumers, and are led by trustworthy and responsible leadership.
The WTTC forecast last year that the travel and tourism sector would contribute R424.5bn to the overall SA economy – about 3% more than in 2017.
The WTTC recently announced that former US president Barack Obama will be a guest of honour and keynote speaker at its Global Summit in Seville, Spain in April. The theme of the summit this year is “changemakers”.