Tough visa regulations slowing down tourism growth in Africa

By ABEL MUHATIA

Tourism Industry experts have cited lack of originality among service providers as a major reason for the sectors slow and poor performance across the continent.

Data from the Word Travel & Tourism Council shows that in 2017, global tourist arrivals were recorded at 1.2 billion with Africa arrivals taking only 62 million of that.

African tourist arrivals supported 8.3 million direct jobs within the said period.This is expected to increase to 11.6 million jobs by 2028.

“There is a lot of copying in the industry. Instead of service providers employing originality, they compete among themselves with the same kind of product hence limiting the growth of the sector,” tourism player Gain McCann told the Star on the sidelines of African Indaba tourism festival held in Durban, South Africa.

“People travel for many hours to come and experience something different,” she added.

Speaking at a forum dubbed Optimising economic transformations, South Africa Tourism sector support service director general Morongoe Ramphele called on African governments to apply VISA laws that are beneficial to the continent.

“Tough Visa regulations are a hindrance to growth, African countries need to open their boundaries for proper domestic tourism growth to be realised,” Ramphele said.

In a joint press conference that marked the official opening of the Indaba, nine African tourism ministers present called for greater regional cooperation to ensure growth in tourism across the continent.

Led by South African tourism minister Derek Hanekom, the delegates said an integrated and sustainable tourism framework for the region is the key to unlocking the existing tourism potential in the 54 African countries.

“With global tourist arrivals predicted to reach 134 million by 2030, there is an increased need for us to address the challenges that hinder the growth of tourism. This will require that we find ways to work together to create an enabling environment that will facilitate synergy in the development of regional tourism products, and ensure the growth and sustainability of the African tourism market.”

First Published by the Star

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