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Tourism is one of the world's fastest growing industries and an important source of foreign exchange and employment for many developing countries. Tourism that focuses on natural environments is a large and growing part of the tourism industry. At the World Summit on Sustainable Development held in Johannesburg,the World Tourism Organization, in collaboration with UNCTAD, launched the Sustainable Tourism C Eliminating Poverty (ST-EP) program

In recent times, tourism has begun to achieve recognition as an economic sector that can make a contribution to development. Tourism is now recognised as one of the sectors with the most potential to contribute to the economic regeneration of the African continent.

Although some two thirds of international tourism receipts in Africa are concentrated in four key countries, South Africa, Egypt, Morocco and Tunisia, tourism is important to a much broader range of African countries. Tourism constitutes more than 10% of total exports for more than half the African countries for which there are data available.

There are many reasons to be optimistic about the potential benefits of tourism as a force for development in Africa. Tourism is significantly more labour intensive that agricultural sectors. This supports the claim that tourism is an efficient generator of employment in developing countries. As jobs in tourism tend to include a relatively high proportion of semi-skilled and female workers there are positive benefits in creating employment for more disadvantaged groups.

There are many reasons to be positive about the continued development of tourism as a positive force in the economic development of Africa. Not only do tourism numbers look good now, but also projections indicate continued strong growth in the tourism sector.

Between 1980 and 2003 tourism as a percentage of total African exports grew from 2% to over 11%. International financial transfers to Africa were US 22.5 billion in 2003. Africa is also performing above many other tourist markets. Despite growth in global tourism receipts over the past decade of about 3%, each year, tourism has increased its global market share of international arrivals from 3.6% in 1995 to 4.1% in 2003.

Africa is increasing its market share of tourism in a very competitive and sophisticated service sector in a highly deregulated environment. The relative value of Africa's global tourism assets is likely to increase. The existence of a thriving tourism sector reflects the attractive force of the tourism product available in Africa. As the rich world gets richer, the demand for travel to destinations in Africa is projected to increase.

AABC's role in promoting tourism

The AABC is a not for profit organization that was established to promote and foster trade and investment between Australia and Africa . Tourism is seen as an important area of economic activity. Activities of the AABC that support tourism initiatives include;

  • Involvement with various African country tourist promotions and road shows
  • Promoting communications with African embassies, High Commissions and Councils in Australia
  • Networking forums
  • Strong links with SAA, South African Tourism and other specific tourism related government and non-government organizations    
  • The AABC's magazine 'Boab Connection'   provides information and regular tourism feature articles

If you are planning to invest in tourism or need information for your next business trip, we've compiled the information in theLinks section.