Africa Tailing Behind in Travel, Tourism Competitiveness

Even with so many promising stories about Africa, it should come as no surprise to hear one about underachievement on the macro level. Africa still drags its feet when competing with the rest of the world. A report recently released by the World Economic Forum entitled- Reducing Barriers to Economic Growth and Job Creation- evaluated world economies’ travel and tourism competitiveness and revealed that many African countries are lagging behind, as always.

Thirty-one, out of the evaluated 34 African countries, are in the last 70 of the 140 included in the survey; Seychelles, Mauritius and South Africa being the three exceptions. Many African countries including the heavy weights: Morocco, Tunisia, Egypt, Botswana and Kenya, performed disappointingly.

The Forum’s competitiveness evaluation includes three categories: the travel and tourism (T&T) regulatory framework sub index, which deals with the national policy; evaluates the five pillars of policy: rules and regulation, environmental sustainability, safety and security, health and hygiene and prioritization. The T&T business environment and infrastructure sub index, on the other hand, evaluates the hard infrastructure available in the economy that would help the travel and tourism sector operate up to its potential; air transport, ground transport, tourism, ICT infrastructure as well as price competitiveness .

The third T&T human, cultural and natural resources sub index, is related to the cultural and natural resources the nation possesses and the jobs the economy is able to create through its T&T industry. This includes human resource, affinity to T&T, natural resource and cultural resources.

Synchronizing the three pillars is still a challenge for most of African countries. Luck of peace and security and the low quality and inadequacy of infrastructure can be cited as the main reason for this poor performance by African countries. Yet there are some inspiring stories. Rwanda, the once civil war torn nation, is showing significant strides.

The report also acknowledges the accomplishments of the sector in this time of economic uncertainties. According to the international tourism organization, UNWTO, tourist arrivals worldwide have increased by 4 pct in 2012 and are expected to rise by 3 to 4 pct in 2013. The increase, according to the report of the Forum, is driven by the growing Middle class in the emerging market.

Currently, the T&T sector contributes 9 pct of the world’s GDP, a total of USD 6 trillion, and employs 120 million people through direct jobs and 125 million people indirectly.

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