Africa Regions’Tourism Futures

Last / Next  2010-03-12 07:03:19

With its land mass of about 11.7 million square
miles and comprised of more than 50 countries,
the continent of Africa has an enormous potential
for tourism development. This potential is based
on an assembly of diverse physical and cultural
resources that have been well-documented (Teye,
1987; Ankomah and Crompton, 1990). Despite
this potential, a viable tourism industry has not
emerged in the majority of the countries in Africa.
Africa has made a number of concerted efforts
to diversify its economies in order to provide sustainable
economic opportunities to improve the
quality of life for its citizens. Within this context,
tourism development has been highlighted but has
actually played a marginal role in the continent’s
overall economic development. One such concerted
effort at regional economic development
began in 1980 when the Organization of African
Unity (OAU) adopted the Lagos Plan Action
(LPA) which eventually became the bedrock of
Africa’s economic development strategy (OAU,
1981; UN, 1986). The economic reasons included
the urgent need to reverse the economic decline that has characterized the continent
since the early 1970s, leading to the label ‘the lost decade’. The political
arguments for a new strategy for economic development were traced to the
consequences of the ‘Scramble for Africa’ and the ‘Partitioning of Africa’
which occurred in the latter half of the 19th century. It has been argued that
the consequent economic and political realities presented Africa with immense
challenges, including fragile national borders, limited effective domestic
markets, narrow resource base, and susceptibility to external market shocks
(Dieke, 1998). Regrettably, these conditions exist today and pose even greater
challenges to African development than they did when the LPA was first
adopted. One main reason is that Africa’s population has almost doubled to
about 700 million during the period, thereby placing tremendous stress on all
aspects of economic, social, cultural, environmental, as well as political development.
In this context, it is important to note the elevated status of tourism
by the United Nations (UN) Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) which
clearly recognized the potential role of tourism in the economic and social
development of Africa (ECA/WTO, 1984, Sako, 1990).
The discussion in this article is limited to sub-Saharan Africa (Africa
south of the Sahara), and the term ‘tourism’ is used to include travel, tourism,
hospitality and directly related industries. The focus of the discussion will
be on international tourism since data on domestic tourism in Africa are
almost non-existent. In general, domestic tourism tends to account for as
much as 90% of the total for the industry (both domestic and international)
in industrialized countries. As such, it should play a significant role in Africa’s
economic development as living standards improve, disposable incomes
expand, the industry is developed, and residents are encouraged to participate
in domestic tourism activities.
A review of the global and regional dimensions of the international tourism
industry indicates that while Africa experienced a modest annual growth rate
of 6.8% in international tourist arrivals between 1989 and 1999, the region
on the whole accounted for a mere 4.0% of world arrivals and an even
smaller 2.2% of receipts. Furthermore, the industry is concentrated in a
handful of countries, while the majority of the countries on the continent
have marginal tourism industries, well below their potential. A question arising
from this review is this: What were some of the main obstacles to tourism
development in the past, and how can they be overcome in the future? Implicit
in this question is the fact that most African countries have, to differing
extents, made attempts during the recent past to develop a tourism industry.
During this period, the debate over the role of tourism development in developing
countries in general was also played out on the African continent.
Given the fact that the issues centred on the debate are even more relevant
today, it is important to examine them, particularly, since they will have to
be addressed in the future.
Table 1 Top 20 tourism destinations in Africa (international
tourist arrivals)


The tourism development debate
This section of the discussion begins to introduce the challenges facing
tourism development in Africa in the future within the context of the postindependence
period. It attempts to synthesize some of the main arguments
advanced in the 1970s and 1980s in support of tourism development on the
continent. For the most part, these were the same arguments, mostly economic
in nature, that were advanced for developing countries in general (de Kadt,
1979; Lea, 1988). However, some of the arguments took into consideration
specific African conditions and concerns.
Table 2 Top 20 tourism earners in Africa (international
tourism receipts, excluding transport)

First, it was argued that most African governments see their responsibility
as including the provision of an adequate supply of foreign exchange for the
payment of imports of capital and consumer products. Tourism was seen as
a means to diversify Africa’s mono-cultural economies, since the economic
fortunes of most countries were highly dependent upon the export of a few
unprocessed agricultural and mineral products. For example, by the mid-
1980s, 25 out of 46 sub-Saharan African countries were totally dependent
on agricultural exports, and 17 countries derived over 80% of their export
earnings from less than four commodities.
Second, and closely related to the foreign exchange arguments, was assertion
that tourism could assist in preventing and alleviating widespread and
persistent unemployment in African countries. This argument was even more
appealing to development experts since it identified tourism as being labourintensive,
requiring a significant proportion of unskilled labour, and stressed
the existence of a hospitable African population to deliver hospitality-based
services. Those who held traditional views that pointed to the fact that the service
sector (including tourism) is the third phase in the process of economic
development, progressing from agriculture and industrialization, were strongly
met with research and statistical evidence to the contrary. For example, Lee
(1987) referred to studies carried out by the United Nations Conference on
Trade and Development (UNCTAD) and concluded that: ‘the development of
a whole range of services is a necessary precondition to stimulate growth in
other sectors and the services industry finds itself in a key position at the heart
of the national economic fabric’ (Lee, 1987: 87). Summary (1987) provided
further evidence from Kenya, where a 70% increase in tourist expenditure
between 1971 and 1976 was estimated to have increased output in the agricultural
sector by as much as 262%, and enhanced productivity in the food
preparation sector by 720%. For the proponents of tourism development, this
was further evidence that the industry can promote inter-sectoral linkages.
Third, it was argued that tourism supports policies that pursue spatially
comprehensive regional development activities. In this regard, a Zimbabwe
minister for tourism stated that the tourism industry ‘provides jobs and
economic growth points in areas that would remain undeveloped because
they are not fit for either agriculture or resettlement purposes. The gains of
tourism are ploughed back to the development areas where they are generated’
(Novicki, 1983: 53).
In addition to the economic arguments in favour of tourism development,
environmental and social benefits were also cited. According to Bell (1987),
by the mid-1980s the number of national parks and reserves had more than
doubled since the early 1960s, thereby facilitating the conservation of ecological
systems that provide the basis for ecotourism in general, and wildlife
tourism in particular. The social and cultural benefits that were articulated in
support of tourism development in Africa are illustrated by the following statement
made by the late President Nyerere of Tanzania: ‘To have visitors is a
special honour, and to treat a visitor well and hospitably is an act of good
manners. A visitor [who] comes to Tanzania, stays for a while, and leaves praising
this country, is a good ambassador of us abroad, and he is an ambassador
who costs us nothing’ (Adelson, 1976: 45). Besides the facilitation of international
understanding, goodwill and contributing to peace, the educational
benefits to both residents and visitors provided claims of additional benefits.
For example, the Zimbabwe Tourist Board attempted to establish cultural
centres close to major tourist attractions so that visitors could meet with locals
and be afforded the opportunity to learn the history and culture of the area.
(Novicki, 1983).
It must be emphasized that African countries were presented with not only
the positive side of the tourism development debate, but the negative arguments
as well. While the issues that emerged from the debate are too diverse and
complex to be adequately examined here, suffice it to say that they have been
extensively covered elsewhere with respect to developing countries (de Kadt,
1979; Britton, 1982; Erbes, 1973; Lea, 1988; Go and Jenkins, 1997) and about
Africa (ECA, 1986; Teye, 1991, Dieke, 1993). Briefly, the counter-arguments
against tourism development include the possibility of enclave development,
leakage of foreign exchange; state subsidized development for the benefit of
foreign investors; seasonal unemployment; exacerbating rural to urban migration;
destruction of social patterns; reinforcement of neo-colonialist relationships
of exploitation, dependency and servitude; inflationary pressure and land
speculation; commercialization of cultural assets; westernization of society,
particularly Africa’s youth; increase in crime; and threats to the moral fibre of
society. After considering both sides of the argument, Tanzania, for example,
denounced tourism development in the late 1960s as inconsistent with the
country’s political philosophy. Despite his initial more positive stance on
tourism, the late President Nyerere went on to label tourism as a ‘necessary evil’
and suggested that tourists must be isolated from the general population
(Nyerere, 1969). There are other examples of concerns about the potential
adverse impact of tourism development in Africa. In the early 1970s, a national
debate that involved the head of state focused on the impact of foreigners on
Ghanaian culture through the social demonstration effect. One contribution to
the debate pointed out that: ‘Without mincing words, the youth of Ghana today
have come to accept anything British, American, and for that matter foreign
as the all-in-all. Anything African and Ghanaian is second rate . . . No decent
society will sit down aloof to see its youth copy useless foreign cultures at the
detriment of the nation . . . Africans nations cannot allow the nation-wrecking
Western permissive society to corrode our society’ (Ayi, 1974: 5). Cultural
activities such as festivals and special events also generated concerns such as:
‘The Americans brought out the curse of traditional ceremonies in West Africa
– the European or Black American with a camera. Possession of this device,
they appear to think, entitles them to roam the area at will, obstructing the view
of other people and generally reducing the whole sacred ceremony to a second
class circus. . . . The rule had better be firmly established before all the German
tourists arrive’ (Williams, 1974: 10–11). The Gambia, with its small population
of less than half a million, also had its share of social problems back in the
1970s whereby: ‘Swedes have sometimes offended Gambian morals by appearing
naked on the beaches or scantily clad in the towns. As a result, the authorities
have insisted on proper dress . . . and have been known to expel overland
tourists who do not conform. to the Gambian concept of well-dressed
Westerners’ (Uweche, 1975: 73).

Critical issues
The economic, social and environmental issues embedded in tourism development
constitute greater challenges for the African region in the future for
a number of reasons. First, the majority of African countries are economically
worse off than they were at or shortly after independence in the 1960s. The
World Bank (1996) estimated that sub-Saharan Africa’s gross domestic
product (GDP) grew by only 1.45% during the period 1991 to 1994. The
Bank went on to say that: ‘In most of the continent, growth is not nearly
sufficient to make a dent in poverty reduction, and despite recent improvements,
Africa’s GDP and export growth rates, savings and investment levels,
and social indicators remain below those of other regions’ (World Bank,
1996: 71). Even countries such as Botswana, Ghana and Uganda, which were
recently regarded as economic success stories by the World Bank and its
affiliate institutions, are currently experiencing serious problems. The situation
in Ghana illustrates the nature and persistence of old economic problems
at the close of this century; specifically, foreign exchange constraints due to
dependence on a few mineral and agricultural exports. The price of cocoa,
the country’s leading agricultural export, which was $1711 per tonne during
the 1997/98 season, had declined to $1040 by September 1999. Similarly,
the country’s principal export, gold, which was $288 an ounce in December
1998 had declined to $260 per ounce. To complicate the economic situation
– and placing enormous pressure on foreign exchange reserves – the price
of imported crude oil was $10.21 in December 1998 but had more than
doubled to about $23 at the end of September 1999. While the short-term
solution appears to lie in the implementation of several austerity measures,
the long-term economic diversification strategy includes the comprehensive
development of the tourism sector. For example, Ghana established a Ministry
of Tourism in 1993 and has a 15-year tourism Master Plan for the period
1996 to 2010. This appears to be the trend in several African countries which
are pursuing planned tourism development projects, with the assistance of
such agencies as the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), WTO
and regional organizations such as the Southern Africa Development
Community (SADC).
Second, the environmental challenges in Africa are even more diverse, complex
and critical today, mainly due to such factors as the rapid population
growth, expanded land-use and congested urban areas. While many African
countries have established environmental protection agencies and ministries for
the environment, several are turning to tourism-related activities in order to protect
the ecosystem. For example, the Upper Guinea Forest Ecosystem in West
Africa which extends from Ghana through the Ivory Coast, Liberia, Guinea and
Sierra Leone, originally occupied about 728 000 square kilometres but currently
all that remains is only about 13% (92 797 km2). This reduction has been
attributed to human activity over a long period of time but most intensely in the
past 20 years. Classified as one of the world’s priority conservation areas
because of what is regarded as its high endemism, Conservation International
(CI) has been working with the governments of Ghana and the Ivory Coast to
establish National Parks and reserves with tourism components such as attractions
and visitors’ centres. Similar projects directed at conserving the environment
and its habitat with potential for ecotourism development can be found in
such countries as Madagascar and Botswana (the Okavango Delta).
Finally, cultural tourism and in particular, the ethnic tourism component has
provided several African countries with the opportunity to begin to preserve and
restore cultural attractions, including several World Heritage Sites. However, in
addition to the old issues that were discussed earlier in this article, new challenges
are beginning to emerge. For example, the restoration of the slave forts
and castles in Senegal (Gore Island) and Ghana (Elmina and Cape Coast) have
evoked emotional responses from Africans in the diaspora, mostly from the
United States and the Caribbean (Bruner, 1996). The Slave Route Project
currently being proposed by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and
Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in partnership with the WTO is bound to add
tremendous resources to Africa’s cultural tourism inventory, but will certainly
raise many complex issues. The diverse economic, social, cultural and environmental
issues related to tourism development will have to be addressed at
country, region and local levels as well at the intra-African regional level. In the
broader context, however, several factors constitute impediments to tourism
development. These will have to be addressed by African countries if they are
to succeed individually or collectively in their tourism development efforts.

Obstacles to tourism development
A myriad of obstacles has been identified in the literature as hindering tourism
development in Africa (Ankomah and Crompton, 1990). A few of them are
summarized below.

Political instability
These include civil wars, coups d’état, dictatorships, terrorist activities and
other forms of political unrest. These can adversely affect the flow of visitors
as well as investment into Africa, and impact the delivery of existing
tourism goods and services (Teye, 1986, 1988). Events associated with political
instability usually include human misery and tragedy which, when relayed
through the print and electronic media, reinforce the negative images that
are incompatible with the safe and relaxing destinations desired by the
majority of leisure visitors. Some studies published in the tourism literature
have documented the fact that international leisure and business travellers
use beliefs and ideas about Africa to construct it socially as ‘dangerous and
to be avoided’ (Carter, 1998: 349). There are still many areas of political
conflicts such as Angola, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda, Sierra
Leone, Somalia and the Sudan. Even countries that appear to be relatively
stable have fragile political conditions, which threaten safety and security of
visitors as well as residents. Recent examples from Egypt, Nigeria, Kenya,
South Africa, Tanzania and Uganda illustrate this point. Furthermore, there
is a tendency on the part of potential visitors from the long-haul points of
origin to perceive local events in Africa on a more continental scale.

Economic restructuring
Most African countries inherited large government bureaucracies from the
colonial period. After independence, they expanded these institutions and
added layers of activities in the primary and manufacturing sectors, such as
state farms, mining companies and industrial holdings. A feature of the
African economy since the mid-1980s has been the Structural Adjustment
Policies (SAPs), aimed at implementing economic reforms including privatization
of public enterprises, deregulation of prices, interest rates and overall
financial liberalization. It was also aimed at attracting foreign investment and
to improve efficiency of resource utilization. SAPs have direct impact on
tourism by attracting investment in the tourism sector as well as increasing
the inflow of the business market segment (Dieke, 1995). While the results
of SAPs are debatable and even controversial, it appears that it will become
a feature of the economic landscape of Africa in the next century, with its
attendant impact on tourism.

Human resource constraints
Tourism requires a variety of inter-disciplinary competencies at various phases
of its planning, development, marketing and management (ECA, 1992).
Investment in the training activities that build local capacity in the tourism
sector should ensure that Africans obtain maximum economic benefits through
better-paying jobs, while reducing economic leakage that arises from hiring
foreigners such as hotel managers. Ultimately, it also ensures development
of indigenous tourism products as well as the delivery of quality services
with staff who are knowledgeable about their own country and its attractions.

Regional cooperation
Regional political and economic unions that promote regional growth through
easy movement of capital, goods, services and people have become a common
feature of global interdependence. Africa has been rather unsuccessful at
establishing lasting and viable economic sub-regional groups, even though
such a large number of these organizations are scattered throughout the continent.
Unfortunately, some, such as the East African Economic Community,
which appeared to be the most viable regional organization in Africa, became
a casualty of political differences between the member states (Kenya, Tanzania
and Uganda) and broke up in 1977 (Delupes, 1969). Others, such as the
Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), which was established
in 1975, is ineffectual and has not delivered most of the programmes
it set out to implement. The benefits that accrue to the tourism industry from
regional cooperation cover almost every aspect of the sector’s development.
They include joint marketing programmes, human resource training, common
transportation services, immigration, customs and health policies, standardization
of research activities and classification of tourism plant (Teye, 1991;
see also Dieke, 1998). Currently, the Southern Africa Economic Community
(SADC) appears to be the regional organization with the greatest assets and
potential in facilitating tourism development on the continent.

Other constraints
There are a number of other obstacles that would have to be overcome in order
to develop a viable tourism industry in Africa. These include provision of adequate
and basic infrastructure, including lodges, telecommunication and transportation
services; overcoming health and medical challenges; strengthening
weak institutional frameworks for tourism planning; encouraging effective
community participation in tourism; promoting domestic tourism; effective
utilization of the information technology, and minimizing the adverse economic,
social and environmental impact of tourism. Ultimately, this means that
what constitutes an appropriate form. of tourism (Brown, 1998) at the country
and local levels needs to be determined and then comprehensively planned in
a sustainable manner.

Summary
This article examined the main issues that African countries will face in
developing viable tourism industries in the new millennium. It began with a
review of the international tourism industry in Africa within a global context.
This was followed by a discussion of the reasons for and against tourism
development in Africa during the post-independence period. It was concluded
that these issues are even more relevant today and will present challenges
in the future. Finally, a number of obstacles restricting tourism development
were summarized as a basis for further discussion. An extensive list of sources
follows this brief overview.

TAG: africa-region tourism-future

Quote Delete ''sammie''   /   2013-05-20 23:18:23
Maximus`space Quote Delete Maximus   /   2010-05-03 19:18:43
Original BykamaAt2010-04-29 00:57:49Released
there is an urgent need to reconsider and review the renumerations of hospitality and tourism profes.

Yes, i think so.
Quote Delete kama   /   2010-04-29 00:57:49
there is an urgent need to reconsider and review the renumerations of hospitality and tourism professionals
Quote Delete vachihera   /   2010-04-10 05:56:01
veryn nice in tourism
 

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