Africa’s travel and tourism sector is expected to create about 14 million new jobs in the next decade and drive economic recovery on the continent.
“Africa is clearly bouncing back and is set to experience a significant recovery over the next couple of years. And looking ahead over the next 10 years, the sector could create almost 14 million jobs,” says the latest forecast by the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC).
“However, last year the recovery was significantly impacted by Omicron, which saw many countries reinstating severe and unjustified travel restrictions on several key African destinations,” said WTTC president and CEO Julia Simpson in a statement.
Travel and tourism GDP growth is forecast at 6.8 percent annually between 2022 and 2032, more than twice the 3.3 percent growth rate of the region’s overall economy, to reach nearly $ 279 billion (7.2 percent of the total economy).
The sector’s contribution to GDP is expected to grow 20.5 percent to $144 billion by the end of this year, amounting to 5.1 percent of the total economic GDP. Employment in the sector is set to grow by 3.1 percent this year, to reach about 22 million jobs.
According to WTTC, Africa’s travel and tourism GDP could approach pre-pandemic levels by next year — just nine percent below 2019 levels.
Before Covid-19, the sector’s contribution to the region’s GDP was 6.8 percent ($182.4 billion), falling to just 3.8 percent ($96.5 billion) in 2020 when the pandemic was at its height — a 47.1 percent decline.
The sector also supported more than 25 million jobs across the region, which, after a 22.9 percent drop, fell to just 19.6 million in 2020.
Africa’s travel and tourism’s contribution to GDP increased by 23.5 percent, to reach more than $119 billion last year signalling the beginning of the recovery for the sector, the report states.
The sector also saw a recovery of 1.6 million jobs, representing 8.2 percent growth to reach more than 21 million jobs.
Contribution to GDP declined by 49.2 percent to $86 billion in 2020, from $169 billion in 2019, with the number of jobs created dropping to 17.5 million from 24.7 million in the same period
While domestic spending declined by 42.8 percent, international spending saw a steeper contraction at 66.8 percent.
In terms of employment losses, Africa suffered disproportionately more than other regions, with the number of jobs falling by 29.3 percent (7.2 million).
Prior to the pandemic, revenues from travel and tourism were instrumental in the restoration and expansion of natural parks and the protection of wildlife in many African countries, and in supporting local communities’ livelihoods through tourism projects.
In Rwanda, travel and tourism GDP grew by 25.3 percent in 2019, after the government prioritised sustainable tourism, with real and tangible impacts both in terms of community development and conservation.
In the area of conservation, high-value tourism permits generated over $18 million per year, contributing to the repopulation of gorillas from 254 in 1981 to 600 in the National Park currently.