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UN reports growth in Africa’s tourism sector

A new report released by the United Nations (UN) documented a dramatic leap in African tourism.

The report from the UN Conference on Trade and Development states that Africa’s international visitors increased on average by 6% every year between 1995 and 2014.

Ghana’s tourist industry was classified as contributing somewhere between 5% and 9.9% to the continent’s overall tourist industry between 2011 and 2014.

The countries that contributed the most growth were Cabo Verde, Seychelles, and Mauritius.

The UN called 2017 The Year of Sustainable Tourism and Development. But beyond lofty proclamations, the report presents the reality of job growth due to the tourism industry. Tourism generated an average of 21 million jobs between 2011 and 2014, or 7.1% of all the continent’s jobs.

The report, however, also contains warnings about the dark side of African tourism.

“Tourism has also been associated with operating in isolation from other parts of the economy, suffering from high financial leakage, generating sociocultural tensions and environmental damage. History suggests that countries cannot rely on tourism as the sole avenue out of poverty or the only pathway to sustainable economic development,” the 206-page document points out.

Anyone who lives in a place frequented by tourists, like Ghana, knows that places which are favorites for tourists may rarely be visited by locals.

While the destination may provide employment, an item of the UN Sustainable Development Goals states that tourism should also generate “local promotion of culture,” which also involves including local people beyond the realms of employment.

In 2015, the last year the report documented, Ghana hosted nearly 1,000 tourists. The percentage of the number of tourists increased annually in almost each interval recorded, with the exception of the interval that included 2014, where West African countries took a hit, likely because of the Ebola epidemic.

Strenuous Visa requirements are among reasons that inter-continental travel can be difficult for citizens of African countries.

Though Ghana announced that it would drop visa requirements for other Africans last year, it is still easier in other countries for citizens of Western countries to get visas than fellow Africans, a BBC report pointed out.

By: Joy Notoma/citifmonline.com/Ghana

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