An emergence of low cost airlines and increasing bed capacity in major cities are two of the reasons Africa recorded tremendous tourism sector growth in 2018.
According to a recent analysis from industry leader, Jumia Travel, Africa’s tourism sector continued to record impressive growth in the past year. The continent hit a 63 million high in international tourist arrivals in 2017, as compared to 58 million in 2016. This is an increase of 9% when compared with 2016, according to a Hospitality Report published in December 2018.
The growth record is slightly above the global performance of a 7% rise in 2017, to reach a total of 1.323 billion international tourist arrivals. Here are some of the tourism highlights for the just concluded year, 2018.
“As compared to her counterparts, Africa’s share of international tourist arrivals was only 5%. Europe boasted the lion’s share with 51%, followed by Asia and the Pacific which recorded 24%. The Americas and the Middle East had 16% and 4% respectively,” explained Jumia Travel’s Josephine Wawira.
Africa’s results were driven by the sector’s continued recovery in Tunisia and Morocco and strong performance in Kenya, Cote d’Ivoire, Mauritius and Zimbabwe. Island destinations, which include Seychelles, Cabo Verde and Reunion recorded double-digit growth in arrivals.
These developments come at a time when the African economy has been gaining momentum, with the real output growth expected to reach 4.1% by 2018/2019. Travel and tourism contribution to Africa’s GDP was expected to reach 12% – a 3.7% rise – in 2018; from a total of 8.1% or $177.6 billion in 2017.
The tourism industry is a major employer in the continent, and supports an estimated 23 million jobs in 2018, compared with 22 million jobs in 2017. The sector therefore accounts for approximately 6.5% of total employment.
Considered one of the most important economic activities in Africa, travel and tourism generated $37 billion in international visitor expenditure in 2017.
Given these developments, Jumia states that there are enormous opportunities for the continent’s airlines to grow, with Africa having recorded only 2.2% of the world’s total air passenger traffic.
With growing economies, a burgeoning middle class and a youthful population, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) forecasts Africa to be the fastest growing air transport passenger market at 4.9% per year to 2037. With this growth, passenger traffic will increase by an additional 197 million over the next 20 years, bringing total passenger traffic to 321 million by 2037.
According to IATA’s Special Envoy to Africa on Aero political Affairs, Raphael Kuuchi, the sustainable growth of African airlines traffic lies in removing the bottlenecks; to effective connectivity, lowering industry operating cost and developing commercial cooperation among airlines.