Tourism today has become an important sector that has an impact on development of country economy. Though its main benefits are income creation and generation of jobs, for many regions and countries, it is the most important source of welfare. However, the ability of the national economy to benefit from tourism depends on the availability of investment to develop the necessary infrastructure, as well as its capacity to supply the needs of tourists.
In its 2016 Travel & Tourism Economic Impact, the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC), the global authority on the economic and social contribution of Travel & Tourism, observed that the outlook for the sector remains robust, despite economic fragilities and other sources of volatility in the wider market. According to the body, the sector’s GDP growth contribution is expected to accelerate and again outpace growth of the wider economy, while stronger growth in 2016 is likely to be underpinned by an improving global economy.
For the fifth successive year, the growth of the Travel & Tourism sector in 2015 (2.8%) outpaced that of the global economy (2.3%) and a number of other major sectors such as manufacturing and retail. In total, the sector generated US $7.2 trillion (9.8% of global GDP) and supported 284 million jobs, equivalent to 1 in 11 jobs in the global economy. The report, which cover 184 countries and 24 regions of the world, provide a unique perspective on the sector’s potential for long-term growth, and the continued vital contribution to the economic strength and social development of the world.
However, in Africa, the four countries that benefit the most from tourism are Egypt, Tunisia, Morocco and South Africa, while a second category includes the countries of Namibia, Botswana, Mozambique, Tanzania and Kenya. While nations like Morocco and Tunisia benefit from their beautiful beaches and their relative proximity to Europe, tourism in Egypt is based on the rich history of Ancient Egypt, pyramids and artifacts. On the other hand, South Africa and Kenya benefit from wild safari expeditions, attracting tourists to see the wildlife of Africa. But for Africa to tap into the sector, there’s need for collaboration and partnership within the continent.
In a bid to share to share its success story in Nigeria and West Africa in general, as well reach out for more partners in West Africa, South African Tourism recently held a soiree for stakeholders, showbiz stars and media practitioners in Lagos. Present at the event, which took place at the Miliki Lounge, Victorian Island, Lagos, are South African Tourism, Chief Executive Officer, Mr Sisa Ntshona, the country’s High Commissioner to Ghana, Lulama Xingwana and the Consul-General of the High Commission in Nigeria, Mr Darkey Africa. Trade partners from NANTA, NATOP, TOUGHA, Wakanow Travels, Tourways International Travel & Tours, Tour Brokers International, World and Travel Land, Diamond & Pearls, AvantGarde Tours, GET centre Travel and Tours were equally present.
The session started with an open dialogue, which included a question and answer session between guests and members of the South African Tourism panel. The initiative, according to the organisers, aims at creating free and open communication between the media and South African Tourism stakeholders, as well as seeking way for partnership among stakeholders in the sector.
Addressing the gathering, the Consul-General of the High Commission in Nigeria, Mr Darkey Africa noted that, though there are obvious challenges facing the sector, time has come for stakeholders in Africa to work together in the interest of the continent.
“Anywhere in the world where there’s problems and challenges, there’s always a way forward. We want to design a new partnership that will help us to understand and appreciate each other,” he said.
He noted that Nigeria and South Africa are the two drivers that must ensure that continent is projected in the way our forefathers wanted it. In her remarks, South African High Commissioner to Ghana, Lulama Xingwana informed that tourism has been identified as one of the key drivers of the economy in Africa and the world, urging African countries to take advantage of the opportunities.
“About 10 per cent of South Africa’s GDP come from tourism; we are the number destination in Africa, but we know we have other countries doing well in the continent. Tourism creates jobs, so, as a nation, we’ve promoted it well because of what the sector has to offer.”
While calling for partnership among African nation in growing the sector, Xingwana noted that, “there’s a lot we can do together; we can learn from one another and we can duplicate what we’ve done in South Africa elsewhere. What we are doing right now is to talk to government and other ambassadors to begin to see Africa as one country. That way, we can develop together,” she said.
To the CEO of South Africa Tourism Sisa Ntshona, the event is a way of showing commitment to the Nigerian market in particular and Africa in general. “I do believe Africa is a country; the quicker we embrace it the better for us. The key point should be how do we hunt together? How do we share experiences to help each other? Africa is the largest market in the world, but how do we take advantage of it,” he quizzed.
Though some remarkable impacts have been made in some countries in the area of tourism, Ntshona believe that Africa has a lot to do to develop the sector.
“We’ve been lazy in the continent because they have been feeding us with money from oil and gold. But once the prizes of these items go down, who is affected? In South Africa, we’ve created Indaba where we invite people from across the world to see what South Africa has to offer as a country. Initially we started with South Africa, but we’ve added other African countries; we have to sell Africa first before our individual countries. Yes, the pressure is there for us to succeed, but we can’t do that without partnering with other countries; we look forward to working together,” he said.
On the issue of the proposed visa on arrival policy for African countries, the Consular General informed that work is being done in this regard, adding that South Africa’s President, Jacob Zuma was present at the African Union meeting in which the All Africa Passport was discussed.
“I’m not aware of the plans for visa on arrival, but I can assure you that relevant authorities are working on that. However, we’ve realised that there’s communication problem with the visa processing process. We’ve set our plans on how to deal with the different categories of travellers to South Africa. As long as information can be spread, it will help us in that regard. Again, the media is critical in this process, but people need to comply with rules,” she said.
The Open Dialogue session was followed by networking session between the organisation and trade partners. Celebrities previously hosted to South Africa such as Musicians Tiwa Savage, Praiz, Comedian Ay, and actor Oc Ukeje, were also present.