KABANDA CHULU, Lusaka
UNITED Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) says African countries, including Zambia, should focus on developing incentives for local people who are increasingly emerging as tourists to drive the industry forward.
According to the 2017 UNCTAD Economic Development in Africa report titled ‘Tourism for transformative and inclusive growth’, four out of 10 international tourists in Africa come from the continent itself.
“In sub-Saharan Africa, this number increases to two out of every three tourists whose travels originate on the continent,” it states.
Data backing this key finding shows that, contrary to perception, Africans themselves are increasingly driving tourism demand in Africa.
The report states that tourism in Africa is a flourishing industry that supports over 21 million jobs, or one in 14 jobs, on the continent.
“To unlock this potential, African governments should adopt measures that support local sourcing, encourage local entities’ participation in the tourism value chain and boost infrastructure development.
“This continued investment into the tourism sector in Africa could lift millions out of poverty, while also contributing to peace and security in the region,” it states.
It has urged African governments to realise the potential of intra-regional tourism for the continent’s economic growth.
“Steps should be taken to liberalise air transport, promote the free movement of persons, ensure currency convertibility and, crucially, recognise the value of African tourism and plan for it,” it states.
Commenting on the report, UNCTAD secretary-general Mukhisa Kituyi said tourism is a dynamic sector with phenomenal potential in Africa.
If properly managed, it can contribute immensely to diversification and inclusion for vulnerable communities,” he said.
During the next decade, UNCTAD projects that continued growth in tourism is expected to generate an additional 11.7 million jobs in Africa.
“Furthermore, where tourism thrives, women thrive. In Africa, over 30 percent of tourism businesses are run by women; and 36 percent of its tourism ministers are women, the highest share in the world,” it states.