Windhoek - The Southern African Development Community (SADC) is by far the most attractive region in terms of luring international tourists, a report by the World Economic Forum has revealed.
In the Travel and Tourism Competitiveness report 2017, the World Economic Forum said Southern Africa remains the strongest sub-region, followed by Eastern Africa then Western Africa. Yet, on average, Eastern Africa is the most improved region, while Southern Africa has experienced a slight decline.
Although painting a brighter picture for the region, the World Economic Forum argued that air connectivity and travel costs are still some of the major impediments to improved tourist attraction to the region.
“Airlines regularly need to lobby their governments to negotiate a bilateral treaty with the destination country, which can be a lengthy process. As a result, there is little competition and little connectivity. In fact, in some cases, it is faster for a passenger to fly through Europe rather than use an African hub. The lack of competition, in turn, impacts the costs of tickets and airport and landing charges,” the report said in part.
In this regard, Simon Allotey, Director General, Ghana Civil Aviation Authority says prohibitive airport charges have been found to dissuade airlines from launching flights to new African routes.
He encourages African airports and governments to find innovative ways to lower airport charges to encourage African carriers to fly more African destinations.
A study by Intervistas for the International Air Transport Association and the African Civil Aviation Commission underlines the benefits of liberalisation of the airways on Africa’s connectivity.
“More routes in Africa would mean short travel time, lower fares, increased trade, more inward investment and continental economic growth,” said the Intervistas report, adding that a flight, from Luanda to Durban which takes about 7 hours on a one-stop flight will take 3 hours and 30 minutes. The flight saves 3 hours 30 minutes of passengers travel time, besides reduced fares.
According the World Economic Forum report, South Africa leads the regional rankings, taking the 53rd place globally, though the country slipped five places since 2015. It continues to rely on cultural resources (19th), strong natural resources (23rd), and a conducive business environment (21st), characterised by minimal red tape and modest administrative burden.
“With respect to environmental sustainability, deforestation and loss of habitat have proceeded at a rapid rate since 2000. The global interest and demand for South Africa’s natural resources is increasing, but insufficient habitat preservation could prevent the country from benefitting from this growing source of tourist attraction. Another aspect that has contributed to a lower performance for South Africa this year is the reduced efforts made by the government to support the sector (59th),” said the report.
Namibia is the fourth most travel and tourism competitive nation in Sub-Saharan Africa, taking the 82nd place globally.
“Namibia’s natural resources (40th), its business environment (38th), air transportation (58th) and price competitiveness (30th) sustain Namibia’s competitiveness as the country slowly continues to increase international arrivals.
“Nonetheless, Namibia loses 12 positions this year, resulting partially from statistical adjustments such as the inclusion of previously unavailable deforestation figures, which have significantly reduced the sustainability performance of the country,” said the report.
The report also said, “Tanzania ranks 91st in 2017. It is home to one of the most impressive concentration of natural resources (8th) and wildlife globally, with its rich variety of landscapes, ranging from Mt Kilimanjaro to its coastline and Zanzibar. Yet international arrivals have flattened since 2012, when the country welcomed 1 million international visitors. Tanzania is a price-competitive destination (34th) where the government plays an active role in promoting the T&T sector (45th).”
The World Economic Forum also said Mozambique improved considerably, rising eight places, and ranking 122nd.
“The strengths of Mozambique’s T&T competitiveness continue to be its natural resources and its very open visa policy (8th).
“This year, the country rose in the rankings through improvements in ICT readiness (123rd, up 11 places), resulting from increased mobile phone usage, by reducing taxes and charges on air transport, and by placing more value on its natural resources. Although there is still no natural site on the UNESCO World Heritage Site list, Mozambique has slightly increased the surface of protected areas and has managed to improve the awareness of its outstanding natural resources (73rd), ranging from safari parks to pristine beaches and islands. The country’s environmental sustainability is positive (64th) and the amount of threatened species is low,” said the report.