Latest research from the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) reveals the African Travel & Tourism sector is set to experience a year or year growth of just 27.7% this year, below the global average.
WTTC says travel restrictions imposed by key source markets such as the UK, which saw countries such as South Africa, Tunisia, Mauritius, Seychelles, Egypt and Kenya on its damaging ‘red list’ for travel, have prevented people from travelling, hindering the sector’s recovery across Africa.
Research by WTTC, which represents the global Travel & Tourism private sector, shows that in 2019, Africa’s Travel & Tourism sector’s contribution to GDP represented almost US$ 169 billion (6.9% of the total economy).
However, in 2020, when the pandemic brought international travel to an almost complete standstill, the contribution to the GDP fell to just US$ 86 billon (3.7% of the total economy), representing a fall of 49.2%, halving the contribution of the Travel & Tourism sector to the region’s economy.
According to the latest research, while the global economy is set to rise 30.7% year on year this year, the African region can expect a year on year growth of 27.7%, representing an increase of US$ 24 billion.
The data also reveals that, at the current recovery rate, the region could experience a further year on year growth of 21% in 2022, representing an increase of further US$ 23 billion to the economy.
The research goes on to show that domestic spending is set to rise by US$ 16 billion (39.5%) year on year in 2021, while international spending is also expected to increase by US$ 6 billion (26.1%) this year.
Next year, domestic spending is set to rise by US$ 13 billion (21.5%). However, international spending is expected to see a further increase of US$ 8 billion (33.8%)
In terms of employment, in 2019, the African Travel & Tourism sector supported almost 25 million jobs. After suffering a loss of more than seven million jobs last year due to severe international travel restrictions, employment is set to rise by a mere 1.1% this year.
However, WTTC’s research reveals a positive 18.1% rise in jobs in 2022, reaching almost 21 million jobs across the sector.
Julia Simpson, WTTC President & CEO, said: “Our research shows that while the African Travel & Tourism sector is slowly beginning to recover, there is still a long way to go in terms of the sector’s contribution to the region’s economy and employment.
“Last year, the pandemic saw the tragic loss of more than seven million jobs from the Travel & Tourism sector. However, due to a predicted rise in both international and domestic spend this year and next, both jobs and GDP are on the rise, which is very encouraging.”
According to the research, the sector’s contribution to the region’s GDP and the rise in jobs could be more positive this year and next, if five vital measures are met by governments worldwide.
These measures include allowing fully vaccinated travellers to move freely, irrespective of their origin or eventual destination.
Secondly, the implementation of digital solutions which enable all travellers to easily prove their COVID status, in turn speeding up the process at borders around the world.
Thirdly, for safe international travel to fully restart, governments must recognise for all vaccines authorised by WHO.
Fourthly, continued support of the COVAX/UNICEF initiative to ensure equitable distribution of vaccines around the world.
Finally, the continued implementation of enhanced health and safety protocols, which will underpin customer confidence.
The future could be even brighter for Africa
If these five vital measures are followed before the end of this year, research shows the impact on the economy and jobs across Africa could be significant.
The sector’s contribution to GDP would benefit from these measures and could rise 30.7% (US$ 26 billion) by the end of 2021, followed by a year on year increase of a further 24.6% (US$ 28 billion) in 2022.
Domestic spending could increase by 41.3% this year, followed by a further 24.6% year on year growth in 2022, reaching pre-pandemic levels.
International spending would also benefit from government action, rising by US$ 7 billion (32.6%) this year, and outpacing domestic spend next year, with a year-on-year increase of US$ 10 billion (38.5%).
The sector’s growth could also have a positive impact on employment, with a 3.5% increase in jobs in 2021.
However, with the right measures to support Travel & Tourism, the number of those employed in the sector next year could see a year on year increase of 21.6%, reaching 22 million jobs, approaching pre-pandemic levels.