UN urges Nigeria, others to recognize value of tourism

Posted: July 24, 2017 in general

UNCTADBy VICTOR NZE

The newly-released United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) Economic Development in Africa Report 2017, titled: ‘Tourism for Transformative and Inclusive Growth,’ has called on Nigeria and rest of the African continent to recognize the value of tourism and move to harness the dynamism of the sector.

According to the report, unveiled, Thursday, four out of 10 international tourists in Africa come from the continent itself, just as it also observed that in sub-Saharan Africa alone, ‘this number increases to two out of every three tourists whose travels originate on the continent.’

The report posits that data backing this key finding further shows that, contrary to perception, Africans themselves are increasingly driving tourism demand in Africa.

“Tourism in Africa is a flourishing industry that supports more than 21 million jobs, or 1 in 14 jobs, on the continent. Over the last two decades, Africa has recorded robust growth, with international tourist arrivals and tourism revenues growing at 6 per cent and 9 per cent, respectively, each year between 1995 and 2014.

“Tourism is a dynamic sector with phenomenal potential in Africa. Properly managed, it can contribute immensely to diversification and inclusion for vulnerable communities,” said Mukhisa Kituyi, the Secretary-General of UNCTAD.

According to the UN, to realize the potential of intraregional tourism for the continent’s economic growth, African Governments should take steps to liberalize air transport, promote the free movement of persons, ensure currency convertibility and, crucially, recognize the value of African tourism and plan for it. These strategic measures can have relatively fast and tangible impacts.

The report which highlighted the mutually beneficial relationship between peace and tourism, which it said was fundamental for tourism.

“The mere appearance of instability in a region can deter tourists, leading to devastating, long-lasting economic consequences. However, the perception of danger does not always correspond with reality.

“The 2014 Ebola outbreak in Western Africa had a very high cost in terms of tourism numbers and revenue lost across the entire continent. Despite being limited to relatively few countries in the western part of the continent, tourist arrivals and bookings fell in countries as far from the outbreak as South Africa and the United Republic of Tanzania,” it said.

The report further noted that the economic impacts of political instability can be quite significant and long-lasting.

“Addressing safety and security concerns and swift responses to crises by African Governments and regional institutions are paramount to the growth of tourism in Africa. Promoting strategies aimed at improving Africa’s image in the global media are also critical in ensuring the sector’s recovery after conflict or political unrest,” the UN said.

The report forecast a positive outlook for the continent’s tourism sector, which it said is expected to generate an additional 11.7 million jobs.

“During the next decade, tourism’s continued growth is expected to generate an additional 11.7 million jobs in Africa. Furthermore, where tourism thrives, women thrive. In Africa, more than 30 per cent of tourism businesses are run by women; and 36 per cent of its tourism ministers are women, which is the highest share in the world.

“Creating firm links between tourism, the agriculture and infrastructure sectors, ecotourism and the medical and cultural tourism market segments can foster diversification into higher value activities and distribute incomes more broadly. To unlock this potential, African Governments should adopt measures that support local sourcing, encourage local entities’ participation in the tourism value chain and boost infrastructure development. This continued investment into the tourism sector in Africa could lift millions out of poverty, while also contributing to peace and security in the region,” the report concluded.

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