Novel Coronavirus and African Tourism

The African Union (AU) has reported that the corona virus pandemic has brought numerous adverse effects on Africa’s tourism industry.

Speaking at an online news conference with the World Health Organization, AU commissioner for infrastructure and energy Amani Abou-Zeid  said that tourism was a vital sector and has been badly hit by corona virus.  More than $50 billion has been lost in just three months among other adverse effects to airline transport caused by the lock downs and border closures policies.

‘’Were talking here about almost 10% of the Gross Domestic Product of Africa comes from tourism and of course air travel is related to that ,but also we have 24 million Africans which means 24 million African families whose livelihood is linked to travel and tourism’’Abou-zeid said.

Hailing African Tourism

Tourism has been contributing a great deal to the growth of Africa economy due to high influx of foreigners for example according to The United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) world tourism barometer which covers world tourism rankings published in 2018 shown that African continent is one of the world’s fastest growing tourist destination with international  tourist arrivals totaled 1.4 billion in 2018 and predicted that the 1.4 mark will also be achieved in 2020. According to the data from Africa tourist monitor annual report on the tourism industry in Africa  published in 2019 displayed that tourism has been up swinging  since 2016 when Africa’s tourist arrivals reached at 62.9 million which means 5.1 share in worldwide tourism. Following the COVID-19 outbreak, this is unlikely to be achieved.

The Tanzanian Context

Tanzania is one of the country in Africa that is expected to be affected badly by the disease according to the statement by Natural Resources and Tourism minister Hamisi Kigwangwalla. In a statement, he said that if the virus outbreak endures up to October this year the number of people expected to lose jobs in the sector will reach 76 percent as tourists anticipated during the period will have declined from 1.9 million to 437,000.  In Tanzanian economic realm, this is the major downfall sign simply because the sector is of high importance as it is the main source of foreign currency.

Tourism Implications

The high influx of tourists means more money coming into the continent and vice versa of that means the continent is going to face bad economic conditions. Given that tourism sector has a close linkage to multiple other sectors that have monumental proportion to the well-being of African livelihood, the unemployment levels expected from the novel coronavirus outbreak is significant.

The aviation transport sector which has also suffered due to the disease led to the loss of $40 million up to the mid of March, its effects will cost the African economy especially in employment where by it supports 6.2 million jobs which is approximately 1.8% of all employment in Africa and $55.8 billion in African economic activity.

Getting Ahead

Should African governments fail to take drastic measures of economic recovery, the continent will suffer worse economic conditions. It is now time for African governments as individual countries and African regional economic communities to sit on the table of discussion and suggest the measures to be taken to get rid of the economic condition before it gets worse.

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