Aidoghie Paulinus, Durban
The Republic of South Africa, has emphasized the need for African countries to rise up and harness their tourism potential. South African Minister of Tourism, Derek Hanekom, made the call during the opening ceremony of the 2019 Africa’s Travel Indaba in Durban, South Africa.
Indaba, an annual African tourism event, is spearheaded by the South African Tourism to showcase the tourism potential of the African continent, particularly South Africa.
Hanekom said the 2019 theme: ‘Africa’s Stories, Your Success,’ re-emphasised the importance of telling Africa’s stories and showcasing the successes recorded on the continent. Further noted that too often, the real stories of Africa are not told and not heard, adding that the African continent is teeming with stories and folklore, which are woven into all the products and experiences that are showcased during Indaba.
Hanekom also said in 2018, Africa reached 67 million international tourist arrivals, a growth of seven percent on 2017, comfortably ahead of the world average growth of six percent.
This, Hanekom noted, represented five percent of all global international arrivals, up nearly 14 million from the low of 2015, a year when the African continent faced the challenge of Ebola.
“We have grown on average by almost eight for three years in a row! In total, directly and indirectly, our tourism sector contributed 8.5 percent to African GDP in 2018, supporting more than 24 million jobs on the continent, or 6.7 per cent of all jobs. When you think of the people one income earner often supports in our societies, this is really significant,” Hanekom said.
The minister further said Ethiopia was Africa’s fastest growing travel economy and the world, growing by 48.6 percent in 2018. He added that the extraordinary growth was mostly attributed to Ethiopia’s success in establishing itself as a regional transport hub.
Ethiopia Airline, Hanekom further said, must be acclaimed for bringing volumes of tourists to the whole African continent.
He said visa relaxation also played a significant role in spurring Ethiopia’s growth, urging African countries to learn from the Ethiopian experience.
“Egypt has demonstrated considerable resilience, and through safety improvements, including in key destinations such as Sharm El-Sheikh, have enticed international tourists back to the country.