Top 5 Highlights in Africa’s Travel and Tourism in 2018

Africa’s Travel and Tourism Top 2018 Highlights. File Photo
Africa’s Travel and Tourism Top 2018 Highlights


Africa’s Travel & Tourism Top 2018 Highlights – Africa’s travel and tourism industry continued to record impressive growth in the past year.

The continent hit a 63 million high in international tourist arrivals in 2017, as compared to 58 M in 2016 (+ 9% vs 2016); according to a Hospitality Report published in December 2018.

The growth record is slightly above the global performance of a 7% rise in 2017, to reach a total of 1.323 billion international tourist arrivals. Here are some of the tourism highlights for the just concluded year, 2018.

  • International tourist arrivals

As compared to her counterparts, Africa’s share of international tourist arrivals was only 5%. Europe boasted the lion’s share with 51%, followed by Asia and the Pacific which recorded 24%. The Americas and the Middle East had 16% and 4% respectively.

The results were driven by the continued recovery in Tunisia and Morocco and strong performance in Kenya, Côte d’Ivoire, Mauritius and Zimbabwe. The two numbers of arrivals in Seychelles, Cabo Verde and Reunion Island have increased.

  • Economic contribution

The African economy is growing, with real output growth estimated to reach 4.1% by 2018/2019. Africa’s travel and tourism contribution to continent’s GDP was expected to reach 12% (a 3.7% rise) in 2018; from a total of 8.1% (USD 177.6 billon) in 2017.

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The industry is also a major employer in the continent, expected to support 23 million jobs (3.1% increase) in 2018. The sector supported 22 million jobs in 2017, approximately 6.5% of total employment. These include jobs directly & indirectly supported by the tourism industry.

  • Expenditures

Considered one of the most important economic activities, Africa’s travel and tourism generated USD 37 billion in international visitor expenditure in 2017.

Domestic travel recorded a high of 60% in local spending as compared to 40% in international spending.

This was attributed to among other factors affordability and ease of travel within the continent, as people’s movement gradually became a basic need for most of the middle class with a higher spending power and who create and shape the future generation entrepreneurs.

Other factors also included the mushrooming of low cost airlines, upward growth of bed capacity in main cities, and flourishing of the shared economy.

This is not to mention the creation of visa upon arrival, e-visa and visa-free travel for African citizens; as well as the use of the AU e-Passport.

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The Africans now do not require a visa to travel to 25% of other African countries and can get visas on arrival in 24% of other African countries.

However, there remains a dominant 51% of African countries which need Africans to have visas to travel.

Moreover, 70% of Africa’s travel and tourism expenditure was recorded from leisure tourists, as leisure travel remained dominant in 2018. Business expenditure on the other hand recorded the other 30%.

  • Rise of international hotel brands

In 2018, there was a reported pipeline activity of 76,322 rooms in 418 hotels (with over 100 brands across Africa).

Of these, 47,679 rooms in 298 hotels were in Sub Saharan Africa, while North Africa recorded 28,643 rooms in 120 hotels.

West Africa was at the forefront of piping activity in the sub-Saharan disaster with 48%, followed by East Africa with 29% and South Africa with 19% and Central Africa with 4%.

  • Africa’s air passenger traffic
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There exist enormous opportunities for the continent’s airlines to grow, with Africa having recorded only 2.2% of the world’s total air passenger traffic.

With growing economies, a burgeoning middle class and a youthful population, IATA forecasts Africa to be the fastest growing air transport passenger market at 4.9% per year to 2037.

With this growth, passenger traffic will increase by an additional 197 million over the next 20 years, bringing total passenger traffic to 321 million by 2037.

Raphael Kuuchi, the IATA Special Envoy on Aero Political Affairs for Africa, says that the sustainable growth of African airlines is the eradication of bottlenecks, the decrease in operating costs for the industry and the development of commercial cooperation between airlines.

Josephine Wawira

Consultant at Jumia Travel

A Consultant in Communications and Public Relations, with over 6 years of progressive writing and broadcast experience. Currently a writer for Jumia Travel, Africa's leading online hotel booking portal, focusing in the areas of travel and tourism as relates to Africa.

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