Source: Africa in focus

Owing to the cheap and easy travel to Africa, the continent has now become the world’s second fastest growing tourist industry and the government driving the tourism business through new initiatives.

In 2018, tourism and travel were paramount to the continent’s economy accounting for almost 8.1% of GDP and equally contributing $194.2 billion to the region’s economy. The tourism industry growth rate stood at 5.6% in 2018 behind Asia Pacific and the global growth rate annually stood at 3.9%. Jumia, an e-commerce company, stated this in a report.


Only in 2018, more than 67 million tourists moved to Africa either for vacation or for site seeing, a record 7% increase from 63 million arrivals in 2017 and 58 million in 2016. From beautiful spots in morocco and South Africa like the souks of Marrakech to the quaint vineyards of the Cape etc, the arrivals to these spots was  around 10 and 11 million arrivals per year.

Source: getty images

With Ethiopia cutting down on their visa restrictions and improvement in transport facilities, the tourist industry in 2018 grew to a 48.6% boost bringing in a total of $7.4 billion. Majority of the foreign visitors to the region were on holiday and almost 71% of their spending were on leisure activities.

A new Itinerary

The initiatives formulation by government of countries like Kenya, Rwanda and South Africa etc. have helped raise the numbers of tourists in the region which in turn helps to drive business tourism to the continent. These initiatives include MICE, where countries arrange events such as meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions to attract international business.

Flying South

Flagship UAE carrier Emirates was the airline making the most money in the continent with over $837 million in the year 2018 and had its popular flights from Johannesburg, Cape Town, Cairo and Mauritius. Between April 2018 and March 2019, the most lucrative air route was from Johannesburg, the largest African City in South Africa to Persian Gulf hub, Dubai and this generated revenue of about $315.6 million.

Within the same time frame, state-owned Airlines of both Angola and South Africa were the only two African Airlines making the top 10 most profitable air route in the continent with top performing air routes from Luanda to Lisbon earned a cool $231.6 million, while flights from Cape Town to Johannesburg generated $185 million.


As countries scramble to grab a greater share of the intra-African tourism market, the dawn of Africa’s free trade agreement will give domestic travel a much-needed boost.

Way Forward

  • Policymakers should also unlock the competitiveness and ease of doing business in the sector with the development of infrastructure, including for road, air, and water transport, as well as the simplification of visa requirements and administrative processes.
  • The private sector should develop and promote memorable touristic products with sustainable competitive advantages, and a quality that meets or exceeds the global standards. Investors and entrepreneurs should ultimately be economic development agents, sourcing local goods and services and fostering inclusion of women and youth and environmental sustainability, while ensuring their profitability in a fast-growing sector.

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