African arrivals in 2013 grow by 3 million to 56 overall


(Posted 21st January 2014)

Arrivals to Africa in 2013 have grown by an average of 6 percent to 56 million overall an increase in real numbers by 3 million, largely aided by a gradual recovery in North Africa, where political unrest had depressed tourist numbers in 2012, and a sustained 5 percent growth for destinations in sub Saharan Africa.

UNWTO’s data for last year, just released, show an overall global travel increase to 1.087 billion tourists traversing the globe and forecasts for 2014 are held at a conservative 4 percent, likely to be exceeded but for unexpected troubles or natural disasters which could impact on the trend.

Africa is expected to once again perform above average in the coming year as the UNWTO Secretary General commented: ‘2013 was an excellent year for international tourism. The tourism sector has shown a remarkable capacity to adjust to the changing market conditions, fuelling growth and job creation around the world, despite the lingering economic and geopolitical challenges. Indeed, tourism has been among the few sectors generating positive news for many economies’.

UNWTO forecasts international arrivals to increase by 4% to 4.5% in 2014, again above its long-term forecast of +3.8% per year between 2010 and 2020. The UNWTO Confidence Index, based on the feedback from over 300 experts worldwide, confirms this outlook with prospects for 2014 higher than in previous years. Mr. Rifai then went on to say: ‘The positive results of 2013, and the expected global economic improvement in 2014, set the scene for another positive year for international tourism. Against this backdrop, UNWTO calls upon national governments to increasingly set up national strategies that support the sector and to deliver on their commitment to fair and sustainable growth’.

The 2014 regional prospects are strongest for Asia and the Pacific (+5% to +6%) and Africa (+4% to +6%), followed by Europe and the Americas (both +3% to +4%).

Good news for Africa which remains the focus of sustainable tourism development for UNWTO and the appointment last year of Elsia Grandcourt, formerly CEO of the Seychelles Tourism Board, as the organization’s Director for Africa will only add to keep the continent in the spotlight through a range of activities and initiatives by UNWTO. Watch this space.