WTM Global Report: Domestic tourism leading Africa’s post-pandemic recovery

Major destinations and source markets across Africa are expected to end 2023 ahead of pre-pandemic values in terms of value, with domestic tourism performing strongly, reveals new research published today.

The WTM Global Travel Report, in association with Tourism Economics, is published to mark the opening of this year’s WTM London, the world’s most influential travel and tourism event.

For 2023, the report predicts that African international inbound leisure will be down in volumes but up in value compared with 2019.

This year an estimated 43 million people will visit the continent, a 13% drop on the 49 million guests welcomed in 2019. However, despite the drop in volumes, the value of these trips is 103% ahead of what 2019’s business was worth.

As the report states, “the range of diverse countries has resulted in a varied picture” across the continent, and the inbound return for the three biggest markets illustrates the differences.

Market leader Egypt is slightly ahead, with 2023 at 101% of 2019 in value terms; Morocco “has made a strong recovery” and will end the year 130% ahead of pre-pandemic levels. South Africa is the region’s third largest inbound market and the one taking longest to recover – 2023 will come in at only 71% of 2019.

Domestic tourism for the region in 2023 is positive across the board, with all the top ten domestic markets, other than Nigeria, ahead of 2019 for value. South Africa is the biggest domestic market, and is ahead 104%. Number two Egypt is 111% up; third placed Algeria 134% up with Morocco completing the top five domestic markets, registering a 110% increase. Nigeria, which comes in at number four, is at 93% of 2019.

Next year will see the region build on its post-pandemic recovery although South African inbound will continue to fall short of 2019.  However, the long-term picture for the region’s biggest market is positive. By 2033, the report expects that the value of inbound leisure to South Africa will be 143% ahead of 2024.

It also identifies Mozambique, Mali and Madagascar are high-growth markets, with increases of 161%, 167% and 162% respectively in the value of inbound leisure travel by 2033.

Juliette Losardo, Exhibition Director, World Travel Market London, said: “Africa has so much to offer domestic and inbound visitors and its importance as a source market for outbound visitors to other destinations is growing all the time.

“WTM London has always supported the region’s tourism industry, and we’re determined to step up our efforts across the board and to reinforce our message that tourism can be a global force for good, and nowhere is this truer than for Africa.”

Source: Breaking Travel News

Rwanda announces visa-free travel for all Africans as continent opens up to free movement of people

NAIROBI, Kenya (AP) — Rwanda announced Thursday that it will allow Africans to travel visa-free to the country, becoming the latest nation on the continent to announce such a measure aimed at boosting free movement of people and trade to rival Europe’s Schengen zone.

President Paul Kagame made the announcement in the Rwandan capital, Kigali, where he pitched the potential of Africa as “a unified tourism destination” for a continent that still relies on 60% of its tourists from outside Africa, according to data from the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa.

“Any African, can get on a plane to Rwanda whenever they wish and they will not pay a thing to enter our country” said Kagame during the 23rd Global Summit of the World Travel and Tourism Council.

“We should not lose sight of our own continental market,” he said. “Africans are the future of global tourism as our middle class continues to grow at a fast pace in the decades to come.”

Once implemented, Rwanda will become the fourth African country to remove travel restrictions for Africans. Other countries that have waived visas to African nationals are Gambia, Benin and Seychelles.

Kenya’s President William Ruto announced Monday plans to allow all Africans to travel to the East African nation visa-free by December 31.

“Visa restrictions amongst ourselves is working against us. When people cannot travel, business people cannot travel, entrepreneurs cannot travel we all become net losers” said Ruto at an international summit in Congo Brazzaville.

The African Union in 2016 launched an African passport with much fanfare, saying it would rival the European Union model in “unleashing the potential of the continent.” However, only diplomats and AU officials have been issued the travel document so far.

The African Passport and free movement of people is “aimed at removing restrictions on African’s ability to travel, work and live within their own continent,” The AU says on its website.

AU also launched the African Continental Free Trade Area, a continent-wide free trade area estimated to be worth $3.4 trillion, which aims to create a single unified market for the continent’s 1.3 billion people and to boost economic development.

Source: AP News

Dubai considerably goes up in world’s safest tourist destination rankings

Dubai ranked 24th among the safest distinguished tourist destinations in the world, according to a classification prepared by the Insider Monkey website.

The website said that when it comes to distinguished tourist destinations, it is difficult to beat Dubai, as everything in the city, from cars and hotels to resorts and beaches, is pulsing with activity and life. The police in the city drive cars such as McLaren and Aston Martin, and it is also home to the tallest building in the world, Burj Khalifa, which is 828 meters high and has 163 floors.

Other places worth visiting in Dubai include its three artificial islands, Palm Jumeirah, Deira Islands, and Palm Jebel Ali.

Hokkaido ranked first in the world, followed by Hawaii in second place, then Ibiza in third place.

In a related context, Burj Khalifa ranked first in the world for the second time in a row in achieving the largest amount of revenue from ticket sales in the world in 2023, outperforming the world’s famous landmarks, according to the American Bounce website for luggage management services.

According to estimates, Burj Khalifa ticket sales in 2023 are expected to reach more than $748 million (Dhs2.74 billion), compared to $622 million in 2022.

The website said that the results of the analysis depended on a variety of factors, including annual visitor numbers, entrance prices, TripAdvisor tourism website reviews, Instagram posts, and more.

Source: Gulf Today

Africa’s Travel Opportunity: A Young, Rising Middle Class

Africa’s long-term travel prospects hinge on its domestic demand, a trend accelerated by the pandemic and an opportunity for the continent’s tourism-rich countries.

“Africa for Africa is vital,” said Anita Mendiratta, special advisor to the UNWTO Secretary General, who spoke to Skift at the Airbnb Africa Summit in Johannesburg.

“Domestic tourism was always the poor cousin of tourism. If you couldn’t afford to travel overseas, you stayed at home. Now, the value of domestic tourism has remained,” Mendiratta said.

For example, domestic tourism in South Africa climbed by 31% in overnight trips during the first four months of 2023 from a year earlier. Domestic travel spending during this period rose by 41%, according to South Africa’s Tourism Department data.

An Airbnb Economic Impact study detailing bookings for 2022 showed domestic stays in the country had increased by 34%, with seven of the 10 fastest-growing places visited outside of South Africa’s main tourist areas in the Western Cape and Gauteng.

While the World Travel & Tourism Council forecast the tourism sector could contribute 7% to the continent’s GDP in the next decade, challenges remain. This is despite the recently introduced African Continental Free Trade Area, the world’s largest by participant count, anticipated to ease trade and services across the continent.

High travel costs and poor transportation networks within and between countries make planning a trip harder than in other, more developed destinations. Mendiratta called the continent’s visa issues between countries a costly barrier.

WTTC pre-pandemic data also showed that domestic tourism accounted for 55% of spending in Africa, compared to 83% in North America and 64% in Europe, pre-pandemic. 

Africa’s Middle Class Could Drive Growth

Yet, analysts suggest Africa’s expanding middle class could have domestic and regional tourism potential. The World Bank estimated a pre-pandemic middle class of 170 million people spread across the continent and its diverse economies, including Kenya, Egypt, Morocco, and Nigeria.

The African Development Bank sees one-third of the continent’s population as middle class based on a $2-20 daily spending, unlike data firm Fraym, which identified a “consumer class” of 330 million by analyzing ownership and education.

The continent has the youngest population in the world, with more than 60% of Africans under 25, which further presents a potential travel segment worth nurturing. 

Gaps in Compelling Local Experiences

Developing unique travel products for African destinations that highlight the continent’s diverse offerings is essential, according to Jerry Mabena, CEO of Motsamayi Tourism. 

While African destinations may share common attractions like the Big Five, each has unique cultural and historical aspects inherently tied to the local people and their heritage, said Mabena.

“In South Africa, there’s a sense that people come to the hotel, then they decide what to do, and actually it’s the other way around,” said Mabena. “Modern travelers are looking for immersion. And if you’re going to get immersed in a particular experience, whatever that experience is, it needs to be curated in a manner that draws you in. If it’s archeology, then it needs to be curated in a manner that’s non-academic.”

Mabena, for example, felt the Ndebele artwork of internationally acclaimed South African artist Ester Mahlangu needed to be showcased in a manner that rooted her talent in her hometown.

“Ester has a center in Nkangala, which should become a tourism destination,” said Mabena. “Ethiopia has some really beautiful religious sites, but I don’t think they are elevated that much. Even as an African, I know them because I’m in the sector. But if I wasn’t, I wouldn’t know about the ruins in Zimbabwe. So there’s a need for us to start finding an African story that needs to be then curated.”

Purpose-Driven Travel

There has been a forced reevaluation of what travel experiences mean on the continent, according to Mendiratta. She added that it is rooted in purpose-driven travel, further triggered by the pandemic, as travelers seek meaningful experiences rather than self-centered journeys.

“There is nowhere in the world that, at a cultural, social, and spiritual level, delivers [more] purpose-based travel than Africa. People come here to be unlocked,” said Mendiratta. “So, they go home a different person. And that’s where Africa has always been the fastest track to people’s conscience and their hearts. That, to me, is the future of travel in Africa.”

Source: Skift

African states urged to step up investments in tourism

A global meeting on tourism has kicked off in Kigali, Rwanda on Thursday with calls to African governments to step up investment in the sector to tap its potential to foster the region’s socio-economic development.

This is because, despite the steady growth of tourism in Africa, tourism has not fully realised its full potential, a situation which is mainly attributed to several bottlenecks in the tourism sector such as the narrow tourism product offer which is mostly focused on wildlife-based tourism at the expense of other tourism segments. 

During the opening ceremony of the 23rd Global Summit of the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) on Thursday, Presidents Paul Kagame of Rwanda and Samia Suluhu Hassan of Tanzania jointly underscored the critical importance of regional tourism collaboration.

A global meeting on tourism has kicked off in Kigali, Rwanda on Thursday with calls to African governments to step up investment in the sector to tap its potential to foster the region’s socio-economic development.

This is because, despite the steady growth of tourism in Africa, tourism has not fully realised its full potential, a situation which is mainly attributed to several bottlenecks in the tourism sector such as the narrow tourism product offer which is mostly focused on wildlife-based tourism at the expense of other tourism segments. 

During the opening ceremony of the 23rd Global Summit of the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) on Thursday, Presidents Paul Kagame of Rwanda and Samia Suluhu Hassan of Tanzania jointly underscored the critical importance of regional tourism collaboration.

With attractions and experiences that complement one another, the region stands as a single, multi-faceted tourism hotspot.

Tanzanian President Samia Suluhu Hassan shared her insights on the vital role of tourism in Africa’s economies. She revealed that in Tanzania, the tourism sector contributes a substantial 17.2 percent to the country’s GDP and accounts for 25 per cent of total export earnings.

This contribution she said, not only highlights the sector’s significance but also underscores its potential for “While this is a massive contribution for one single source, it entails that Africa can leverage tourism to drive economic growth and create employment opportunities. The sector (tourism) if well utilised can be of great use to most African countries in terms of repositioning the continent in other connected sectors and henceforth attract more foreign currencies…” said Suluhu.

East Africa is setting its sights on becoming a prominent tourism hub, akin to some of the world’s most renowned destinations.

However, industry experts say the vision for success lies in a groundbreaking strategy: 80 percent of tourists are expected to originate from within the region itself.

This ambitious target calls for a re-evaluation of existing approaches to tourism development, including a fresh perspective on urban areas and cities as key tourism destinations.

“The region suffers from a narrow range of tourism products which are predominantly nature-based; market efforts are biased towards the traditional markets” Geoffrey Manyara, a tourism expert at the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (Uneca) Sub-regional Office for East Africa in Kigali told The EastAfrican.

Manyara highlighted that the region’s tourism potential faces challenges such as a shortage of qualified tourism professionals, high air travel costs, limited accessibility, and inadequate tourism statistics, hindering strategic planning and sector development. Economic growth and job creation.

However, opportunities lie in tapping into the intra-East African Community (EAC) and the broader African market, in addition to nurturing domestic tourism.

“Given that the current efforts appear to be targeting the traditional markets, it will be good to see more efforts being made to tap the emerging African market which is showing great potential from what we have seen in the recent past, and more, so during and post the Covid-19 pandemic.”

The East African Community Tourism Marketing Strategy for 2021-2025 which aims to foster inclusive and sustainable tourism within the EAC region emphasizes the intra-EAC market and aims to attract over 11 million intra-EAC tourists by 2025, a significant increase from the 6.8 million recorded in 2018 if the strategy is effectively executed.

According to WTTC, Africa has the world’s youngest population and by 2033, $1 in every $13 created in Africa, will come from travel and tourism and 1 in 17 jobs will be in the sector.

This demonstrates the huge potential the continent’s sector has for new jobs and new economic growth for young people across Africa. 

Source: The Eastafrican

UK issues new terror warning for nationals in Tanzania

Britain has issued a security alert for its nationals, warning of potential terrorism danger in the southern regions of Tanzania near the border with Mozambique.

In an updated travel advisory for Tanzania, the UK’s Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) on October 30 warned against “all but essential travel to any area within 20 kilometres of the Tanzanian border with the Cabo Delgado Province of northern Mozambique.”

It said the new advisory was “due to attacks by groups linked with Islamic extremism” and also cautioned that terrorists were “very likely to try to carry out attacks in Tanzania in the near future, including in major cities.”

According to the FCDO, the attacks “could be indiscriminate and occur without warning” with an added risk of “kidnapping for ransom and political purposes.”

“Places frequented by Westerners, including places of worship, transport hubs, embassies, hotels and restaurants, and major gatherings like sporting and religious events, may be targets,” it said.

Around 75,000 British nationals visit Tanzania every year and the FCDO advisory urged them to “remain vigilant at all times” while in the country.

The latest alert comes about two weeks after a similar one issued for “certain areas in Uganda” following the deaths of three people including a Briton in a “suspected” terrorist attack in the country’s Queen Elizabeth National Park.

Also killed in the Uganda incident which occurred in mid-October were a South African national and a local tour guide.

The FCDO said although Tanzania has not suffered a major terrorist incident since the 1998 US embassy bombing in Dar es Salaam “there have been a number of smaller-scale incidents.”

“Most attacks target the local security forces, though attacks against Western interests are also possible,” it added.

It also noted that Tanzanian authorities had successfully made a number of arrests in connection to terrorism, but added that many of the incidents were “of unclear origin and may be conducted by criminal gangs.”

The alert made particular reference to an October 2020 attack in Kitara villagè in Tanzania’s Mtwara region close to the border with Mozambique, stating that the attack was “claimed” by Islamic extremists operating in northern Mozambique.

“Attacks by IS-Mozambique, who are based in the Cabo Delgado province of Mozambique, are possible near Tanzania’s border with this area of Mozambique. There is also thought to be some support for Daesh (formerly referred to as ISIL),” it said.

It further mentioned that members of Somalia’s Al Shabaab faction were also “thought to be active in Tanzania” as in other East African countries.

Source: The East African

Outrage as Kenya tax officials accused of harassing tourists at airport

Lawmakers have joined Kenyans in protesting a directive by the Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) seeking to tax personal or household items worth $500 (Ksh75,000) and above, whether new or used by tourists visiting the country.

The National Assembly Committee on Defence and Foreign Relations said some KRA officials have been taking advantage of the directive to harass tourists, hence giving the country bad publicity. The committee chairman Nelson Koech said Kenya instead be working on how to grow the number of tourists visiting the country.

“We are entering the peak tourism season and His Majesty’s visit to Kenya is poised to give our tourism a very big boost. The KRA’s passenger Terminal Guidelines could not have come at a worse time. This is not the time to be threatening those coming to Kenya,” Mr. Koech said.

“We agree, the laws around the world impose limitations on the amount of goods but that should not be an excuse to threaten passengers, harass travellers or infringe on the privacy of tourists. KRA should make it easy for passengers and travellers coming to Kenya to declare their luggage and where necessary pay duty before landing,” he added.

The Belgut MP pointed out that there is a need to clarify which goods are affected and ensure personal effects and electronics are left out.

“There appears to be mischievous characters at Times Tower who are bent on sustaining negative publicity on taxes. We appreciate that the only way we are going to achieve sustainable development as a country is by paying taxes and becoming dependent on our own resources as a country,” Mr. Koech said.

“But even then, there is a need for all agencies of government to go easy on Kenyans and as far as possible avoid coming across as insensitive in making their public announcements,” he said.

“Why would KRA choose when we are preparing for the Royal Visit to remind Kenyans of these new Passenger Rules? Where have they been all along?”

Tourism Cabinet Secretary Alfred Mutua termed the KRA move as one of the reasons the number of tourists visiting the country has been declining.

“You go to Rwanda; they don’t harass you. Does Rwanda not collect taxes? You go to South Africa, and they don’t harass you. In Dubai, they don’t harass you. So, why do our visitors face such challenges in Kenya? And we wonder why people are not coming to Kenya,” Mutua asked.

Senate majority leader Aaron Cheruiyot said on his X account that “the National Assembly finance committee holds the key to alleviating national shame that is the KRA searches at JKIA. By providing the necessary clarity needed to distinguish goods for a commercial venture and personal items”.

Source: The East African

Kenya targets 5.5m international tourists by 2028

Kenya plans to more than double international tourist arrival in the next five years, as the industry moves towards full recovery in post- pandemic era.

Kenya Tourism Board is seeking to grow arrivals into the country to 5.5 million by 2028, in an ambitious plan that involves the private sector.

It is reaching out to industry players for collaborative efforts to market the country.

According to KTB chairperson Francis Gichaba, the sector is back on full recovery with arrivals by end of the current financial year expected to close at slightly over 1.9 million visitors.

“We are very optimistic that with the support from the private sector and other key players in the industry, our performance will even surpass the 2019 arrivals to over 2 million and progressively beyond,” said Gichaba.

He was speaking at Bomas of Kenya yesterday during a tourism stakeholder meeting that brought together hoteliers, tour operators, travel agents, tourism associations and government agencies.

The session sought to validate KTB’s five-year strategic plan for 2023-2028.

In the strategy, KTB is targeting to achieve 5.5 million international tourist arrivals and grow the tourism sector contribution to Kenya’s economy to Sh 1 trillion annually by June 2028.

The Tourism Research Institute has projected this year’s arrivals at 1.9 million with the number expected to grow to 2.2 million in 2024.

In 2022, arrivals were 1,483,752 which was a 70.5 per cent increase compared to 2021 arrivals of 870,465.

The country’s best year remains 2019 when arrivals hit a high of 2.04 million visitors with earnings of Sh296.2 billion.

Earnings are expected to hit Sh359.1 billion next year, and then Sh396.1 billion the year after.

“The projections were informed by global economic factors and Covid recovery patterns. The effects of the Russia invasion of Ukraine on some key markets and on global tourism supply channels was also taken on board,” TRI acting Chief Executive Officer David Gitonga told the Star.

Its based on economically tested tourism prediction models that TRI has acquired, contracted, he added.

Yesterday, Gichaba said destination marketing was a collaborative exercise, noting that the involvement of the private sector in the strategy development was one of the ways of incorporating invaluable ideas that would shape the sector’s performance within the review period.

Kenya Hotel Keepers Association and Caterers CEO Mike Macharia on his part, called on the private players to tailor their product and experiences to the needs of the market.

“We talk of Africa as the low hanging fruit in terms of numbers and market share into the country and therefore, the product owners should package their products and experience and sell to Africa, “Macharia said.

This move, he said, would also open opportunities for Africans to invest in Kenya’s hospitality sector.

While lauding KTB for consolidating industry’s input in its strategy, the KAHC chief challenged the marketing agency not to downsize on in-market promotional activities.

These includes participating in tourism fairs such as World Travel Market and International Tourism Bourse among others, which he noted as ways of increasing brand visibility.

“We have to go where the market is, and this is what our competitors such as South Africa have beaten us on. They have invested heavily on market presence not only to build brand awareness but to sign marketing deals,” Macharia said.

In the KTB strategy, the sector is looking to grow Kenya’s market share in Africa to six per cent from the current 2.26 per cent and increase employment contribution from 7.9 per cent in 2022, to an annual growth 10 per cent.

On the Gross Domestic Product, the tourism marketing agency is targeting to move from 6.4 per cent recorded last year to 10 per cent by 2027.

The performance of the domestic market is also expected to grow from the current bed nights of five million to about 7.4 million in 2028.  

Source: The Star

Global tourism sector recovering faster than expected this year, WTTC says

The global tourism sector is rebounding at a faster pace than expected this year, despite macroeconomic and geopolitical tensions, but environmental sustainability must be central to its recovery.

That is according to the latest global tourism outlook revealed by the World Travel and Tourism Council on Wednesday at its annual global summit, held for the first time in Africa, in the Rwandan capital Kigali.

Total tourism arrivals worldwide are expected to grow 5 per cent in 2023, compared to 2019, according to WTTC’s latest forecast in partnership with Oxford Economics. That is an improvement on the 2 per cent the organisation predicted in March.

“Despite economic and geopolitical turmoil in 2023, we’re seeing that this year so far is showing a faster recovery than our initial expectations,” Julia Simpson, the WTTC’s president and chief executive, said at the summit’s opening press briefing.

“Our previous predictions in March have now been exceeded by travel and tourism’s current performance … every single region is growing faster than we had originally predicted.

“Once again, our sector has shown its true resilience and grit in the reopening after the pandemic.”

Tourism arrivals into the Middle East are set to rise 28 per cent this year, from their pre-Covid levels, the October forecast showed. The organisation in March had predicted 22 per cent growth.

Asked specifically about the impact of the Russia-Ukraine and Israel-Gaza wars on the recovery of global tourism, Ms Simpson said: “All I can say is that the WTTC, as an organisation that represents travel and tourism, we stand for peace, we stand for building bridges and we stand for connecting people.”

Airlines in the Middle East have said that the Israel-Gaza war has led to a drop in air travel to the region, as the conflict rages on amid international calls to halt the fighting to ease the humanitarian disaster in the enclave.

Challenges include costly flight diversions for security reasons, steep fuel bills and a drop in international visitors.

The global travel and tourism sector contributed to more than 10 per cent of the global gross domestic product in 2019, with the industry worth $10 trillion.

It lost about 50 per cent of its value during the Covid-19 pandemic, making it one of the hardest hit sectors.

So far this year, the sector has nearly recovered to its pre-Covid levels, according to the WTTC.

Travel and tourism is expected to contribute 9.2 per cent to the global GDP at a value of $9.5 trillion in 2023, just 5 per cent below its 2019 levels. That is a 23.3 per cent year-on-year increase from the $7.7 trillion recorded in 2022.

“We are very resilient, we come back. It’s deep in our DNA to travel and to connect,” Ms. Simpson said.

The industry has not fully rebounded to 2019 levels yet partly because China’s full recovery potential has yet to be realised, Ms. Simpson said.

“The reason we’re not quite there is that China, which is one of the biggest travel and tourism economies, only opened this year and is still going through those opening processes of making sure people can travel and get visas,” she said.

“We’ve also had some issues around labour shortages, which were short-term, but hampered a little bit the recovery. But we’re practically there.”

In the next 10 years, the value of the travel and tourism industry is going to increase to reach about $15.5 trillion, according to Ms. Simpson.

But rebuilding the sector following the pandemic-induced turmoil must also take into account its impact on the environment, she said.

Travel and tourism was responsible for 8.1 per cent of greenhouse gas emissions in 2019, 10.6 per cent of total global energy and 0.9 per cent of freshwater use, according to a study revealed last year by the WTTC and Sustainable Tourism Global Centre, part of Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Tourism.

“Travel and tourism is recovering but as we know, sustainability needs to be at its centre,” Ms Simpson said. “Growing back better means growing sustainably.”

Source: The National News