CityPress - - Business - GAYLE ED­MUNDS busi­ness@city­

In South Africa, one in 10 jobs is in the tourism in­dus­try. In Africa, it is one in 14. Over­all, the in­dus­try pro­vides jobs to 21 mil­lion Africans, and there is plenty of space to grow.

Tourism mat­ters if the con­ti­nent is to pro­vide work and bet­ter lives for its peo­ple, said Clau­dia Roeth­lis­berger, a co-au­thor of the UN Con­fer­ence on Trade and De­vel­op­ment’s Eco­nomic De­vel­op­ment in Africa Re­port 2017: Tourism for Trans­for­ma­tive and In­clu­sive Growth.

Glob­ally, half of those who make up the labour force in the tourism in­dus­try are younger than 25, and al­most a third of the busi­nesses are run by women. These num­bers are sig­nif­i­cant given the youth un­em­ploy­ment cri­sis and the need to bring more women into the econ­omy across the con­ti­nent.

Roeth­lis­berger de­liv­ered the key find­ings of the re­port this week, which is a hefty 200 pages. One of the stand-out find­ings is that in­ter­re­gional tourism mat­ters – a lot – and that, over­all in Africa, 40% of in­ter­na­tional tourists come from within the con­ti­nent.

In South Africa, that per­cent­age is 70%, while, in north­ern Africa, it is only 20%. In the South­ern African De­vel­op­ment Com­mu­nity, there are two African tourists out of ev­ery three peo­ple who travel in­ter­na­tion­ally.

The re­port com­pared two sets of data – one col­lected be­tween 1995 and 1998, the sec­ond be­tween 2011 and 2015. This means the re­port can show the up­ward tra­jec­tory in the in­dus­try in terms of help­ing in­clude more Africans in the econ­omy and in trans­form­ing who owns that econ­omy.

This is also re­flected in the growth of the con­tri­bu­tion tourism makes to GDP. The global av­er­age con­tri­bu­tion tourism makes is 10% of GDP – in South Africa, that per­cent­age is 9%. Across the con­ti­nent, the con­tri­bu­tion to GDP has in­creased from 6.8% to 8.5%, which is sig­nif­i­cant, es­pe­cially when you fac­tor in that there is a lot of un­tapped tourism po­ten­tial around the con­ti­nent.

Con­sider that Africa in 2015 held a 4.4% share of world­wide tourism ar­rivals, which, in num­bers, is up­wards of 56 mil­lion peo­ple trav­el­ling into and within the con­ti­nent. This is up from 24 mil­lion be­tween 1995 and 1998, and 48 mil­lion be­tween 2005 and 2008.

The re­port points out that South Africa has some work to do to stem leak­ages. This refers to money that is spent here, but that is banked in an­other coun­try. In­ter­na­tional ho­tel chains and restau­rants were used as a proxy for the in­dus­try as a whole to col­lect this data. In Tu­nisia, In­done­sia and Thai­land, the leak­age rate is be­tween 20% and 25% – in South Africa, it is 50%. This means we should all make an ef­fort to stay in a lo­cal ho­tel chain so that our money goes back into our own econ­omy.

To il­lus­trate the po­ten­tial for growth, the re­port refers to Rwanda, where, in ad­di­tion to up­grad­ing their in­fras­truc­ture in key ar­eas, gov­ern­ment abol­ished cer­tain visa re­quire­ments. The re­sult gives pause for thought – in 2010, there were 283 000 vis­i­tors to the coun­try, which rose to 478 000 in 2013. Tourism is the fastest grow­ing sec­tor of the econ­omy in Rwanda and brought in R637 mil­lion in 2013. This is ex­pected to triple to R1.95 bil­lion this year.

Sim­i­larly, if just 12 African coun­tries were to im­ple­ment the 1999 Ya­mous­soukro De­ci­sion, it would cre­ate 150 000 more jobs on the con­ti­nent, add 5 mil­lion vis­i­tors and con­trib­ute an ad­di­tional $3.4 bil­lion (R45 bil­lion) to con­ti­nen­tal GDP.

The 1999 de­ci­sion is an agree­ment to open the skies over African coun­tries – to pro­tect the share held by state-owned air car­ri­ers, most coun­tries don’t al­low just any air­line to land.

Ac­cord­ing to the World Bank, Africa is home to 12% of the world’s pop­u­la­tion, but only ac­counts for 1% of the global air ser­vice mar­ket.

The re­port is chock­ful of rec­om­men­da­tions for growth in this labour-in­ten­sive in­dus­try, which has the ca­pac­ity to reach ex­cluded ru­ral com­mu­ni­ties, and to build co­op­er­a­tion and cul­tural tol­er­ance across the con­ti­nent and be­tween re­gions.

Pri­mar­ily, though, with Africa’s crip­plingly high youth un­em­ploy­ment rate, and the lack of trans­for­ma­tion and in­clu­sion of women and marginalised com­mu­ni­ties, it is an area that, with proper im­ple­men­ta­tion, could un­lock vast eco­nomic po­ten­tial for the con­ti­nent.

Roeth­lis­berger said it would re­quire bet­ter co­op­er­a­tion and pol­icy that cap­i­talises on re­gional tourists bet­ter to put in place the con­ti­nent-wide strat­egy put for­ward by the African Union to dou­ble tourism’s con­tri­bu­tion to GDP by 2023.

To read the full re­port, visit unc­

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