By Iminza Keboge
Published October 10, 2017
Though Africa is one of the fastest-growing regions for the travel and tourism sector globally with the potential to achieve the African Union’s aims for development across the continent given its linkages with other sectors of the economy, most African countries have yet to reach their full potential.
New Partnerships for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) technical agency of the African Union (AU) has come up with a continental framework for the implementation of sustainable tourism in Africa known as Tourism Action Plan (TAP) that also supports the domestication of United Nation’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and AU’s 2063 Agenda for development.
Three of the 17 SDGs–numbers 8, 12 and 14–that AU says it is domesticating are directly linked to tourism, including economic growth; job creation, environmental preservation and effective resource management; and the promotion and protection of cultural values and heritage. However, being a cross-cutting industry, tourism has the potential to contribute to all SDGs.
Among the obstacles to Africa’s tourism sector is uncontrolled and rapid urbanization–half of the African population will live in cities by 2025!–that poses further challenges to touristic activities: waste management, transport and pollution, and poor connectivity and infrastructure.
Slow visa facilitation, low investment levels and the capacity gap in the hospitality service industry are other challenges to the growth of Africa’s tourism, according to Worldtourism Wire.
UN World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) figures show that international tourist arrivals in Africa grew by 8% with a total of 58 million international tourists.
While an estimated 1235 million international tourists travelled around the world in 2016, travel and tourism represent nine percent of the world’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and one out of every 11 jobs.