Can governments count on tourism?
AFRICA’S travel and tourism economy (direct and indirect impact) in 2006 is expected to account for 9.9 per cent of GDP and 16,060,000 jobs (7.8 per cent of total employment).
Its travel and tourism is expected to grow 6.8 per cent in 2006 and by 4.6 per cent per annum, in real terms, between 2007 and 2016. according to the World Travel and Tourism Council.
These are significant enough numbers – the question is, then, whether African governments can truly count on travel and tourism to come to their rescue in terms of generating revenue and jobs.
“Rescue is a big word, but yes, travel and tourism has the potential to generate significant development and job creation if the conditions necessary for it to grow and thrive are in place,” says Richard Miller, WTTC executive vice-president.
Which immediately throws up the question of sustainable tourism. How much of the tourism in Africa is sustainable? In South Africa, for example, there is a concern that tourism is not penetrating through to smaller operators and townships.
Says Miller, “Sustainability is of course key to any industry, tourism is no different. If tourism is done properly, then 100 per cent of Africa tourism is sustainable.”
Miller says the concern that tourism is not penetrating to smaller operators and townships is erroneous. “As tourism grows in an economy, any economy, its impact flows directly and indirectly thru the entire economy. Of course there are best case examples of projects/ efforts that have targeted tourism flows to small operators and townships and these can always be improved or transferred to other places. The only limitations to this penetration is individual entrepreneurship and government leadership.”
The WTTC’s tourism recommendations for South Africa, which other nations on the continent would do well to take heed from, are strengthening tourism mangement, enhancing the national tourism organization and clarifying aviation policy.