Africa’s tourism sector is progressively becoming more prominent largely due to increased commitment from regional governments.
The continent’s tour and travel industry experienced an 8% increase in international arrivals in 2016, according to new data from the United Nations World Trade Organisation (UNWTO).
Most heads of states and governments are seeing the urgency to prioritize the sector now directly accounting for 10.2% of the world’s GDP, equivalent to $2.3 trillion, said Josephine Wawira, Communications Head at Jumia Travel, a subsidiary of Jumia, which is a leading regional online retailer.
In a statement issued on December 4th, 2017, Wawira noted that the tourism industry has massive potential to foster positive change and transformation, an aspect that has captured the attention of regional leaders.
Kenya, for instance, has made recent moves to bolster the sector.
The country’s President, Uhuru Kenyatta’s issued a directive – after taking his oath of office for a second term on the 28th of November, 2017 – that Africans visiting the country will henceforth receive a visa on arrival.
The move is designed to further enhance collaboration between Kenya and her African counterparts.
“The freer we are to travel and live with one another, the more integrated and appreciative of our diversity we will become,” emphasized President Uhuru during his inaugural speech.
“To underscore Kenya’s commitment, this shall not be done on the basis of reciprocity,” he added, referring to the issuance of the visa on arrival.
Kenya, joins 21 other African countries that have scrapped or lessened visa restrictions for Africans, among them Ghana, Seychelles, Mauritius, Benin, and Rwanda.
Wawira explained that these efforts by African governments to adopt visa liberalization policies are towards the African Union (AU) Agenda 2063 policy document, that outlines seamless borders and could increase Africa’s tourism revenues by about 25%.
“The visa challenge has in most cases hindered Africans who wish to tour the continent. Such a move by the Kenyan government as well as other African governments that have already implemented the policy is a major endorsement on the tourism sector. After a significant drop in performance during the electioneering period, we believe this will boost tourism numbers especially during this festive season,” said Jumia Travel Kenya’s Country manager, Cyrus Onyiego.
Rwanda also recently announced that from January 1st, 2018, travelers from across the world will receive a 30-day visa on arrival.
“This will no doubt enhance Rwanda’s trade relations with the rest of the world, but also further grow tourism’s prominence both in the country and within the East African region,” Wawira said.