Tourism is an important ingredient for the growth of an economy through its effects on employment generation, infrastructure provision, acceleration of income taxes and exports and promotion of global peace. As a result, many African countries have started tapping into the potentials embedded in tourism. International tourism into Africa has thus grown rapidly, making the continent the second fastest growing tourist destination in the world. Tourism has become a key means by which many African countries improve their income and export base as well as showcase their cultural heritage. Africa’s natural and cultural resource endowments are dominant attractions for international tourism demand. With historic monuments such as the pyramids of Egypt, Robben Island in South Africa, cave churches in Ethiopia, cave paintings in Tassili N’Ajjer in Algeria and Tsodilo in Botswana, and Gorée Island in Senegal, Africa boasts a wealth of attractions for tourists from all over the world. Tourism has the potentials to significantly accelerate Africa’s economic growth and development.   

Tourism, a major world economic activity, is an important ingredient for the growth of an economy through its effects on employment generation, infrastructure provision, acceleration of income taxes and exports and promotion of global peace. As a result, many African countries have started tapping into the potentials embedded in tourism. As an emerging industry in Africa, tourism has been identified with the boost of foreign exchange, enhancement of infrastructural facilities and promotion of international cooperation and understanding for the African continent. Tourism has become a key means by which many African countries improve their income and export base as well as showcase their cultural heritage.

Recent decades have therefore seen growing expansion in tourism demand in Africa, as international tourism gradually become key to Africa-wide economic development with both private and public sectors channeling substantial resources into the industry. Africa has remarkable tourism prospects and that tourism is gradually contributing to the continent’s GDP and exports. Africa’s natural and cultural resource endowments are such that it ought to be profiting largely from international tourism; tourism has the potentials to significantly accelerate Africa’s economic growth and development.

Until recently, empirical studies on international tourism demand has been largely on developed countries while Africa has remained under-researched. This dearth of rigorous empirical studies has been attributed as the cause of inadequate policy guidance in the industry and the continent’s largely underdeveloped and underutilized tourism endowments, despite its potentials for tourism. Adeola, Boso and Evans (2018) was an attempt to fill these voids, taking into consideration typical factors present within the continent. This study was important because it is a direct response to the number of important regional and national initiatives to enhance tourism in Africa. The identification and enquiry into the drivers of international tourism demand in Africa is key to any effort to understand and explain changes in tourism demand in the past and to anticipate the potential pathways of future tourism development in Africa.

Adeola et al (2018) therefore used Poisson regression model to determine the drivers of international tourism demand in Africa. This study employed annual data over the period 1995-2015 for a sample of 44 African countries. In contrast to the few studies in the literature on international tourism demand in Africa, this study has carefully tested for the cross-sectional dependence of the data series. The outcomes of the Poisson regression show that taste formation is a significant and positive driver of international tourism in Africa. The number of prospective tourists depends on previous treatment and hospitality. As well, real exchange rate for the countries is also negatively related to international tourism. Thus, currency appreciation is consistent with a lower number of tourists. Infrastructure also is a significant and positive driver of international tourism in Africa. The higher the scale of infrastructural provisions in the continent, the more eager tourists are to come and explore the endowments and opportunities in Africa. Political stability and absence of violence also have salutary effects on international tourism. The implication is that if African countries experience increased political stability and absence of violence, tourists will be more eager to visit Africa. As well, a higher per capita income is consistent with more tourist arrivals, indicating that the tourists prefer more developed African countries. FDI and trade openness are also significant drivers of international tourism in Africa. However, domestic prices and transport costs are not significant drivers of the decision to travel to Africa.

In line with the above, most countries in Africa realize tourism’s potentials as an economic opportunity and development catalyst, and have therefore drafted strategic plans. While Africa has enormous potentials with its rich cultural and natural resources, yet it is still, for the most part, in the early stages of travel and tourism development. As shown by the findings of this study, Africa’s challenges may not be linked to its incredible resources, but rather to broader issues confronting the continent such as weak infrastructure, low purchasing power, political stability, violence and security. Even though Africa has been receiving increasing number of tourists, the continent should keep infrastructural development and political stability as central elements as they develop their travel and tourism sectors. By tackling their challenges head on and building on their competitive advantages, African countries will hopefully be able to attain their travel and tourism potentials.

In sum, taste formation, real exchange rate, infrastructure, political stability and absence of violence, per capita income, FDI, and trade openness are significant drivers of international tourism demand in Africa. Nevertheless, it must be stressed that the evidence is not picture-perfect. There are some cases where these factors may not drive international tourism demand. As a result of the intrinsic cross-country heterogeneities, the drivers of international tourism demand may be country-specific and estimation of a panel model based on the pooling of observations across the countries might not be informative to investors interested in a particular country, and their use could even be misleading. While it is possible in some dimensions to do the estimation for a specific country, the estimation for a specific company demands larger time series data than are currently available. It is suggested that future research takes the findings reported in this study further to examine how the drivers influence international tourism demands in individual African countries.

 

For Further Reading

Adeola, O., Boso, N., & Evans, O. (2018). Drivers of international tourism demand in Africa. Business Economics53(1), 25-36.

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