Africa has witnessed a significant improvement in tourism activities since 2013.
This is according to the 2015 edition of the Africa tourism monitor released by the African Development Bank in partnership with the New York University Africa House and the Africa Travel Association.
It indicates that Africa’s vast tourism potentials need to be fully exploited because tourism continues to be one of the fastest growing and most dynamic sectors on the continent.
“In 2014, a total of 65.3 million international tourists visited the continent – 200,000 more, than in 2013. Back in 1990, Africa welcomed just 17.4 million visitors from abroad. The sector has therefore quadrupled in size in less than 15 years,” the report said.
The report presents Egypt, Ethiopia and Nigeria as the top three tourist destinations in Africa.
It also suggests that an increase in the number of tourists means more jobs. About 20 million people are working directly or indirectly for the tourism industry and the sector accounts for more than 7 per cent of jobs in Africa.
The report cites hotel staff, interpreters, aviation staff and small businesses as the main beneficiaries of Africa’s tourism potentials.
According to the report, a variety of attractions makes Africa a place to visit.
It cites a wealth of archaeological sites and historic monuments, such as pyramids (Egypt), cave churches (Ethiopia), Robben Island (South Africa), Gorée Island (Senegal) and cave paintings (Tassili N’Ajjer in Algeria and Tsodilo in Botswana).
It also mentions the stunning landscapes and attractions such as Victoria Falls, the Sahara, Namibia and Kalahari deserts, picturesque coastlines, mountains, plains, tropical rain forests and bush ecosystems – home to exceptional plants and wildlife and flourishing small businesses.
Lack of dedicated incentive, policies, the need for closer regional cooperation, weaknesses in infrastructure and security have been highlighted as the main barriers of the sector.
The report regrets that there are still untapped potentials in Africa’s tourism sector which could kick start rapid economic development.