Editor’s Note: February 08, 2019

Tourism should be a priority for Africa

Radisson Hotel Group is planning to increase the number of hotels it operates in Africa from 50 to 130 by 2020. This is part of spiking investment by international hotel chains, which has seen the likes of Marriott, Hyatt, and Accorhotels announce ambitious expansion plans in the last year.

Driving this is Africa’s fast-growing tourism sector. According to the World Tourism Organizationinternational arrivals grew by 8.6% in 2017 to 62.7m – the fastest globally – bringing in $37.3bn in receipts.

It’s the proverbial tip of the iceberg. 

Africa accounts for just 5% and 2.7% of global arrivals and receipts respectively, and is dominated by a handful of markets. That looks set to change as rising demand, improving air connectivity, and more conducive policies drive growth.

This is not just good news for business.

Even in its underdeveloped state tourism accounts for 3.3% of Africa’s GDP according to the World Travel and Tourism Council, supporting 22.7m jobs – or 6.5% of total employment. The latter statistic is key, highlighting tourism’s potential for mass employment – perhaps Africa’s biggest development challenge.

For this reason alone the sector ought to be a priority for African governments, but it has the added benefit of showing healthy commercial growth.

It’s a no-brainer.

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