Africa over the years has become a tourist destination due to its rich cultural heritage, with countries like Kenya, Tanzania, Egypt South Africa and even Nigeria making waves and creating a new era in tourism.
For countries like Kenya, tourism contributes a very substantial amount to national revenue every year.
According to World Bank’s Harnessing Tourism for Growth and Improved Livelihoods report, tourism contributes more than 9 percent of global GDP, 5.8 percent of exports, and 4.5 percent of investment.
Between 2009 and 2010, despite the global financial slowdown, international tourist arrivals in Africa jumped almost 8 percent, making the region the second fastest-growing in the world after East Asia and the Pacific. This immediately raised hopes that Tourism can be a powerful development path for Africa.
Fast forward to 2017 Africa has taken a huge 5 steps backward according to the 2017 Index released on April 6 by Swiss nonprofit foundation, World Economic Forum, ranked 136 countries across 14 separate dimensions on their delivery of sustainable economic and societal benefits through the travel and tourism sector.
The top three in the ranking are Spain, France and Germany as a result of their world-class natural and cultural resources, outstanding infrastructure and hospitality services, the report said.
South Africa led Africa at 53 globally, followed by Namibia, Tanzania, Ivory Coast and Mozambique at 82nd, 91st, 109th and 122nd respectively.
“South Africa’s tourism competitiveness has deteriorated on two elements—safety and security (120th) and environmental sustainability (117th),” the report stated citing terrorism fears and increased sense of insecurity related to crime as reasons for the underperformance.
Among the top 15 most improved countries on the index are Algeria (118) – moved 5 places up, Gabon (119) – moved 5 places up, Egypt (74) – moved 9 places up, and Chad (135) moved 6 places up.
“The increasing importance of demand from emerging markets and technology are changing the travel and tourism sector’s landscape at a fast rate … The capacity of countries to respond to and embrace these structural shifts will determine the future success of destinations,” said Roberto Crotti, Economist, World Economic Forum.