The report is filled with surprises and of course, insights into the global tourism space that are quite remarkable, especially for policy makers and travel companies within the African travel ecosystem.
So, here are 5 major takeaways from the report:
1. Dead bones are rising again
For most travelers, the word Palestine does not conjure any images of a great tourist destination, for obvious reasons. But after two years of sustained decline in tourist arrivals, the West Bank has witnessed what seems like a dramatic surge, becoming the world’s fastest growing tourist destination.
The same is true of Egypt and Tunisia which have been enmeshed in political unrest within the past few years. The wave of attacks on North Sinai in 2015 had scared many tourists away, but the land of the pharaohs has since put that sorry past behind.
Elsewhere in Tunisia, the skirmishes of the 2011 Arab Spring still leave a bitter aftertaste in the mouth, pushing tourists further away. But a recovery process which started last year has seen Tunisia leapfrog to one of the top 5 fastest growing destinations globally.
2. Tourism is the Currency of the Future
Tourism is like a wattle tree in the desert; it blossoms despite occasional shocks and the adverse realities of its external environment.
Destinations across the world received 369million international visitors between January and April 2017, which accounts for 21million more visitors, compared to those of 2016.
It’s one of the few sectors of the global economy to have witnessed a steady rise since as far back as 1950 when international tourist arrivals grew from 25million to 674million in 2000. In 2016, these figures grew to around 1.2billion globally, and it is projected to grow by 3.8% annually within the next five years.
3. The world is Coming to Africa
Even though no African country made the top 10 tourism destinations by the UN World Tourism Organization, something revolutionary is sweeping across the African landscape.
Compared to the weaker performances of 2014 and 2015, Africa saw a far-reaching rebound in 2016 with an estimated 8% growth in international tourist arrivals, making it the second continent with the biggest regional growth after Asia and the Pacific (13%).
A total 58 million international tourists landed on an African soil last year, and even more are expected in the coming years. It is believed that increased connectivity, simpler visa processes and more affordable air transport will allow Africa make the big leap in global tourism.
4. Everything rises and falls on Security
There are no two ways about it, nations who will drive the global tourism revenue over the course of the next few years have to be those with little or no security threats. To ensure a steady rise in international tourists’ arrivals, nations must tighten the noose on security and make destinations safer.
And there are telling incidents to support this claim. In 2015, a spate of terrorist attacks in Kenya led to a 25% fall in tourist numbers, according to a report by Reuters. And just over two months ago, when a terrorist group attacked the London Bridge, the city of London saw less tourist numbers.
Nations with ongoing security concerns could take a cue from this and make security a critical element in governance.
5. All Eyes on Leisure Travel
Well, people still travel for business, health and religious reasons, and that trend is likely not to change any soon. But leisure travel accounted for over half (53%) of international tourists arrivals in 2016.
In 2016, leisure travel alone accounted for 76.8% of global travel spend, according to a report by the World Travel and Tourism Council. Nations who prioritize investment in infrastructure, access and opening up of new destinations are bound to take the lead in global tourism receipts.