The Deputy Executive Secretary of the UN Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), Ms. Giovanie Biha, has called for a focus on maximizing the opportunities in the aviation and tourism sectors. Speaking at a two-day meeting in Addis Ababa, Ms Biha was reported to have urged African experts to focus on the acknowledged central role of aviation in supporting tourism, and said that more still needs to be done on the continent to harmonize aviation and tourism policies.
A statement issued by the ECA quoted Ms Biha as saying: “With increased connectivity warranting long term growth for aviation and tourism, the interlinked sectors represents lasting opportunities for all those involved in the tourism value chain. But if these socio-economic benefits are to be fully harnessed, tourism and aviation must address persisting divergent policies and work towards a stronger, integrated position on inter-sectorial issues.”
According to the ECA 53% of over 1.2 billion tourists travelled by air to reach international destinations in 2014. This number covered 80% for Landlocked Developing Countries (LLDCs) and Small Island Developing States (SIDS). The meeting was to look into a new report on aviation and tourism policies in Africa as tourism fast becomes an important vehicle for the continent’s economic development: “Fostering Africa’s Tourism Growth: The Aviation and Tourism Policy”.
According to the statement, the ECA Deputy Executive Secretary also highlighted that both aviation and tourism jointly support in excess of 58 million jobs and more than $2.4 trillion in global GDP. The report, commissioned by the ECA on the two economic sectors, is said to have identified a number of factors constraining the growth of the two industries including unfavorable regulatory environments, policies that limit air connectivity, restrictive visa regimes, uncoordinated consumer protection regulations, restrictive taxes and other levies.
The ECA says tourism’s contribution to GDP on the continent ranges from as low as 4.5% in countries such as Burundi, to 56.5% on the higher level for a country like Seychelles. United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) projects that international tourist arrivals will increase by approximately 3.3% every year from 2010 to reach 1.8 billion by 2030, Africa’s share of international tourist arrivals according to 2013 figures, was low and only at about 5% of the global total.