Tag Archive

African tourism declines by 3 percent in 2015

Comments (0) Africa, Business, Featured

The number of tourist visits to North Africa drops eight percent while sub-Saharan Africa sees a one percent decline.

International tourist arrivals in Africa declined by three percent in 2015 but experts predict a revival this year.

The overall decline of arrivals on the continent was fueled by a drop of eight percent in North Africa, which accounts for about one third of all arrivals, according to the United Nations World Tourism Organization (WTO).

In sub-Saharan Africa, the decline for the year was only one percent and travel began to increase in the second half of the year.

The tourism organization said there were a total of 53 million tourist arrivals on the continent in 2015.

Global travel increased

The decline contrasts with other regions of the world that saw increases in international arrivals, including Europe, Asia and the Americas, which each rose by five percent, and the Middle East, which saw a gain of three percent after experiencing declines for years prior to 2014.

The drop in travel to Africa ended more than a decade of increases in tourist travel to the continent.

WTO Secretary-General Taleb Rifai predicted the number of arrivals this year will increase by two to five percent, driven by a rise in tourism. He said experts expect tourism to more than double to about 130 million arrivals per year by 2030.

One reason for optimism is that more visitors are coming from emerging economies in Asia and in Central and Eastern Europe. At the same time, fewer travelers are coming from China as its economy struggles.

Continent offers diverse attractions

Popular African attractions include the wildlife of Masai Mara in Kenya, Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe and Zambia, the pyramids of Egypt, Cape Town in South Africa, Marrakech in Morocco, the Omo River region of Ethiopia, the gorillas of the Virunga Mountains in Uganda, Rwanda and the Democtratic Republic of Congo, and Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania.

According to the African Development Bank, Morocco, Egypt, South Africa, Tunisia and Zimbabwe were the African countries with the most international visitors in 2014. It predicted that Algeria, Mozambique and Kenya soon would join the ranks of the most visited nations.

The report (pdf) estimated that there were a total of 65 million international arrivals in 2014. About half came from Europe, a total of 582 million travelers. Another 24 percent come from the Asia-Pacific region (263 million); 11 percent from North America (120 million). Smaller percentages come from Latin America, Africa and the Middle East.

In Egypt, 1.3 million tourism jobs

Egypt has the most direct employment in tourism at 1.3 million jobs, followed by Ethiopia with 980 million, Nigeria with 884 million, Morocco with 775 million and South Africa with 680 million.

The countries with the largest share of employment devoted directly to tourism are: Seychelles (24 percent), Cabo Verde (14 percent), Mauritius (11 percent), and Morocco and Tunisia (7 percent each).

The World Travel and Tourism Council estimates that travel and tourism and travel represents more than 8 percent of the gross domestic product of Africa and contributed about three percent of employment in hotels, airlines and other passenger transportation, as well as travel agents, restaurants and leisure industries.

Tiny share of global market

Africa holds a small share of the global market. Africa had 65.3 million arrivals in 2014, just fewer than 6 percent of the 1.1 billion tourist arrivals reported worldwide, the tourism monitor report said. Africa received a total of $43.6 billion in tourism revenue, about 3.5 percent of the global total.

While tourism in Africa was rising steadily until 2015, myriad challenges including lack of high airline prices, convenient transport, security concerns, threats to wildlife and lack of cooperation between nations, may be holding it back from even greater growth.

In North Africa, terror and civil strife sharply reduced the flow of tourists, while violence and the Ebola crisis scared many tourists away from the southern continent.

Security fears undermine tourism

Among major destinations, Kenya, Nigeria, Tunisia and Egypt have seen their tourism industries battered by security fears.

South Africa, Nigeria, Ghana and Uganda also saw significant drops in travel, according to one estimate.

The tiny West African country Mali has seen its tourist business collapse amid ongoing terrorist attacks and anti-government unrest.

From a peak of 200,000 visitors a year in 2011, Mali’s tourist trade has slowed to a trickle of a few thousands as numerous governments, including the United States, Britain, France and Australia, have issued travel warnings.

High number of travel warnings

Travel warnings can be a deterrent to tourism and Africa has seen a large share issued by the U.S. State Department. A 2015 analysis by Skift of 261 travel alerts issued or updated since 1996, found that 30 of 82 countries that had notifications were in Africa.

Algeria, Burundi and Congo, along with Afghanistan, had the most frequent updates.

Meanwhile, the African Union’s commissioner for transport and infrastructure recently urged representatives of African nations to adopt a more collaborative approach to increasing tourism to the continent.

“We can complement each other as African countries. We should work together to develop our institutional capacity and human resources to take it on the international level. So this is one of the areas we need to work on,” Elham Mahmoud Ahmed Ibrahim said.

Read more

Driving Up Tourism in Abu Dhabi

Comments (0) Business, Featured, Middle East

abu dhabi cruise

With ambitions to become a top winter sun destination, Abu Dhabi has launched a new cruise ship terminal and is developing its tourism infrastructure.

With ambitions to become a top winter sun destination, last Sunday, Sheikh Hazza bin Zayed Al Nahyan, National Security Advisor and Deputy Chairman of the Abu Dhabi Executive Council, officially opened Abu Dhabi’s first purpose-built cruise ship terminal. With capacity for three ships carrying 5,000 passengers at a time, this new terminal, located in the Zayed Port, marks a major landmark for cruise tourism in Abu Dhabi. 205,000 cruise visitors in 112 vessels are already scheduled for this season, 2015-2016, which is a fivefold increase compared to the first cruise season of 2006-2007. Officials expect this figure to increase by at least 15,000 next season to 220,000 cruise passengers in 117 vessels (2016-2017). Longer term growth projections anticipate that figure to reach 300,000 passengers in 130 vessels by 2019-20. Swiss-based cruise line MSC Cruises will be the first cruise line to use the new terminal as its home port for the 2015-16 season. The following season, it will be joined by Celebrity Cruises.

Abu Dhabi’s Economic Vision 2030

Development of the cruise tourism industry is part of a plan to significantly boost tourism in the emirate traditionally seen as second to Dubai as a tourist destination. In 2006, Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, mandated the development of a long-term economic plan to increase the non-oil share of the emirate’s GDP. Known as the Economic Vision 2030, the year by which predictions suggest Abu Dhabi’s baseline growth assumptions could achieve economic diversification, the plan focuses on finding tangible solutions to boost tourism and leisure. Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber, Minister of State, said: “By working closely with our strategic partners and building the necessary infrastructure we hope to expand Abu Dhabi’s tourism sector and reinforce its position as a major global destination.”

As part of the Economic Vision 2030 plan, in 2006 Abu Dhabi also formed the Tourism Development and Investment Company (TDIC), a body intended to drive development of the tourism industry. Capitalizing on blue seas, sand dunes, and UNESCO world heritage sites, the TDIC is currently working on more than 55 projects across the emirate which are all set for completion by 2020. Building projects include multi-use complexes, business and leisure resorts, and desert resorts. One of its flagship developments is Saadiyat Island, where branches of the Louvre and the Guggenheim are currently being built, and expected to open towards the end of next year. Two championship golf courses, environmentally-friendly resorts, new hotel developments, and luxury residential developments to house 160,000 residents are also underway.

The Abu Dhabi International Airport is also undergoing expansion in order to increase its capacity to 45 million. The new, high-tech 700,000 square meter Midfield Terminal Building, set to open in 2017, has been designed to process 19,000 bags per hour on a 22 kilometer baggage handling system and to utilize a new check-in system that can automatically verify mobile and printed boarding passes, improve security, and lower waiting times.

These projects will join the Yas Island development, Abu Dhabi’s $40 billion man-made destination island, which is home to the Ferrari World theme park and the $1 billion Yas Marina circuit, the most expensive F1 track ever built, which hosted the first Abu Dhabi Grand Prix in 2009.

Tourism up in Abu Dhabi

The strategy is already seeing some success. Abu Dhabi’s most recent summer season saw a 21% rise in the number of visitors compared with the previous year. The most significant growth came from Indian visitors, up by 29.8% year-on-year, and Saudi Arabian visitors, up 28% year-on-year. Visitors from the US also grew a significant 24.4%. And visitors from Europe grew 18.1%, with the United Kingdom and Germany contributing to the bulk of the increase. The figures mean that this year Abu Dhabi will exceed 4 million visitors for the first time. Sultan Al Mutawa Al Dhaheri, acting executive director of the Abu Dhabi Tourism and Culture Authority (TCA), said: “We are hugely encouraged by number of visitors who came to the emirate, not only from across the GCC but from around the world”.

The TCA will continue to focus on attracting tourists from India, a drive which this year saw a promotion office opened in India’s capital Delhi to increase passengers of Cruise Arabia, a voyage touring Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Bahrain, and Muscat. The TCA is also focused on attracting tourists from China. This year, more than 20 Abu Dhabi hotels, shopping centers, and tourist destinations enrolled in the China National Tourism Administration’s “Welcome Chinese” program to learn about providing services for Chinese travelers such as Mandarin-speaking staff and payment services for China’s UnionPay bank cards. The TCA has also led a delegation of Abu Dhabi travel suppliers, including representatives of Hyatt Hotels and Resorts and The Ritz-Carlton Abu Dhabi, to Korea and Japan. And looking toward the African market, the TCA will open an office in South Africa this coming year.

The Middle East looks to tourism

Abu Dhabi’s tourism aspirations are part of a burgeoning trend in the region. Dependent on oil for around 50% of GDP and suffering from high unemployment of the young, Saudi Arabia has begun investing in a number of programs to develop heritage sites, museums, tourist accommodation, and tourism infrastructure. A report by the Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage (SCTNH) confirms: “Tourism represents the second most important economic sector in the Kingdom. Despite its low contribution to the gross domestic product (GDP) of only 2.7 percent, development plans in tourism show its ability to raise its contribution to higher levels, and makes it more capable to develop targeted areas especially the rural and remote areas that need comprehensive economic development to create jobs and investment opportunities.” The global Travel and Tourism Competitiveness Report currently ranks Saudi Arabia as 64th in the world. This in fact puts it ahead of many of the more traditionally tourist-focused countries in the Middle East: Tunisia is 79th, Egypt is 83rd, and Lebanon is 94th.

Qatar is also looking to boost tourism to diversify its economy; 2013 tourism figures were up 8.3%, but it still lags behind most of its neighbours. The Qatar Tourism Authority (QTA) has set a goal of attracting 7.4 million visitors by 2030, and has pledged to spend billions in developing new tourist attractions and training more hospitality workers. And Dubai’s Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing (DTCM) is also busy implementing Dubai Vision 2020, a program designed to double the number of tourists from 10 million in 2012 to 20 million by 2020, and boost tourism’s share of GDP to $81.7 billion.

Read more

Salma Elloumi Rekik, a glimmer of hope for Tunisian tourism revival

Comments (0) Featured, Leaders, Middle East

salma elloumi

At a time when many would have shied away from such a hard-hit economic sector, Salma Elloumi Rekik, business woman and politician, boldly stepped into the role of Tunisia’s Minister of Tourism.

Time of action for the Tourism Minister

Little over a month after taking the reins from her predecessor Amel Karboul, on February 6th, 2015, the already fragile economy was knocked by Bardo terrorist attacks and again in the July Sousse beach massacre. Tourism has increasingly become the nation’s linchpin, generating 15 percent of the country’s GDP last year. It has been down to Rekik to provide solutions to get the vital tourism trade back on track.

On June 29th, 2015, Salma Elloumi announced the many government measures that were to be put in place to essentially give those in tourism a financial lift. Among them: loan repayments were postponed for the years 2015 and 2016, VAT reduced from 12 percent to 8 percent and overdue fines cancelled.

“The ministry has focused its actions on the change in the promotional policy, especially after the attacks of Bardo and Sousse,” said the Minister.

In an endeavor to broaden Tunisia’s appeal to holiday makers from African countries, Iran, China and Russia, Rekik worked hard to have security in the country strengthened and to increase air traffic, devoting a budget of 12.5 million of Tunisian dinars (over 6 million US dollars) for this purpose.

The lady behind the titles

Born in Tunis on June 5th, 1956, Rekik was influenced and immersed in business from an early age. Growing up surrounded by her family’s wiring company; she continued her education after leaving Omran High School at the Institute of Management in Tunis (ISG) until the age of 22. As well as possessing a business mind, the young Rekik became multi-lingual, speaking and reading in Arabic, French and English.

On leaving university she began working for the family business which her father, Taoufik Elloumi, created in 1985. Societé Cofat Med -SCM specializes in the design and manufacture of electrical wiring for motor vehicles and utilities and is still going strong.

“SCM started with less than 20 employees; now it is one of the most popular companies in Tunisia,” the 59 year old said of her father’s enterprise.

In the early 1990’s, Rekik expanded her professional outlook after the former president Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali launched a campaign to modernize agriculture. Taking this as a cue, she branched out into a new sector, industrial agriculture.

She began with Stifen, the food processing company her father founded in 1994. In time she was made CEO and the prosperous company became part of the expanding Elloumi group. Her appetite for responsibility led her to become the CEO of SCM and she went on to drive both companies to great success. Stifen now exports globally and lists Kellogg’s, Danone and Nestle amongst its clients.

Political life

The mother of three, not content with just one profession, she embarked on her political career after the 2011 Jasmine revolution in Tunisia. Spurred into action by the changes her country was experiencing, she co-founded the secularist political party Nidaa Tounes and became a member in the party’s executive bureau.

“Engaging in politics is a duty as a citizen,” she said, and she paid her duty well, following her party to victory against the Islamist Ennahda party in the October 26th, 2014 elections, only the second truly legitimate election to be held in Tunisia since 2011.

Their time in power was not smooth, including a coalition government with their Islamist rivals in February 2015. Further difficulties beset the party when Rekik, along with 30 other Nidaa Tounes deputies, resigned Sunday, November 8th, 2015. The mass resignation came in response to members becoming increasingly fractious about the conduct and intentions of some of the party’s fellows.

For the love of one’s country

For now, Rekik has a big enough task ahead in her work as Tourist Minister. Without doubt she has proven herself many times over in her varied chosen fields of work, and has shown and continues to display strong and prudent leadership skills, which have been sought after globally.

Versatile, intelligent and brave, Rekik’s work has been publically recognized and gained her two commendations by the Tunisian Republic for her service to the nation. She still found time to participate throughout her career in leadership, management, and crisis management training programs in the United States and Europe.

Her work as Minister of Tourism seeks to bring hope to the Tunisian people and highlight the rich array of positives her nation has to offer the rest of the world. Speaking on December 2nd, 2015, she announced the upcoming release of a film about the 2015 Nobel Peace Prize, which was awarded to the Tunisian National Dialogue Quartet, an encouraging sign and a pivotal moment for Salma Elloumi Rekik’s beloved country.

Read more

Coastal erosion washes away beaches, threatens tourism in Senegal

Comments (0) Africa, Business, Latest Updates from Reuters

SALY, Senegal (Reuters) – The European winter is the high season for tourism in Senegal as visitors flock to its sea and sun to escape the cold, yet since last year the doors of the luxury Hotel Espadon have been closed.

Its swimming pool has turned a swampy green. The skeletons of old parasols poke out from the sand and the sea gnaws at the foundations of its pretty beachfront rooms.

The problem is not high prices or mismanagement but coastal erosion that is blighting the West African country’s coast.

The Atlantic has washed away beaches, forcing hotels to make a drastic choice: save their property by building sea walls that block the view or let the water rise and risk losing everything.

“Every day I receive tourists who come to see if it’s true what they say about the Hotel Espadon’s current state,” said Sonore Khadim Tall, the building’s superintendent. “They can’t believe their eyes and some of them even cry.”

As a Paris summit focuses on climate change it is tempting to place the whole blame for Senegal’s erosion on rising sea levels but reckless building on beaches compounds the problem, said Papa Goumbo Lo, head of Senegal’s national institute for scientific research.

The problem arises when builders construct too close to the beach or extract coastal sand for projects, exacerbating erosion and rendering buildings vulnerable to tides.



Tourism accounts for 11 percent of Senegal’s economy, but over time erosion could affect the country as a whole, given that two thirds of the population live in the coastal region around the capital Dakar.

Other countries in the region are affected. Gambia’s 15 coastal hotels are at risk due to erosion. Nigeria’s environment ministry has launched a programme to fight erosion and Ghana, which has 1 million annual visitors, has built a 30-km sea wall.

Around 1 million people also visit Senegal every year and in 2014 the government set itself the goal of tripling that number.

Saly, where the Espadon is located, is one of the country’s biggest tourist hubs but risks missing out. Since 2010, the town 50 km (32 miles) southeast of Dakar has lost 30 metres of beach.

Ousmane Diop, head of environment and client relations at the nearby Filaos Hotel, said visitors who return to the hotel these days are drawn by loyalty to the staff rather than the beach.

Only a postcard of the beach remains and the water is accessible across a ramp beside a sea wall.

“If we hadn’t built the wall, the ocean would have been in the restaurant,” Diop said, pointing at an open-air dining area with a sea view.



Tourism in West Africa has already been hit by perceptions of insecurity in countries like Mali, where Islamist militants attacked a luxury hotel on Nov. 20, and disease, after Ebola killed thousands in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.

Senegal tried to offset the problem in May by scrapping visa requirements and halving airfare taxes.

But numbers from the World Travel and Tourism Council show visits have been flat this year compared to last year and tourism employees in Saly say their numbers are down. Many hotels along the coast closed early last season.

Ibou Sakro Thiandoum, president of Saly’s natural resource commission, called for greater central government action, saying, “We are orphans here.”

For his part, Ernest Dione, national coordinator for the Ministry of the Environment, defended government initiatives, pointing to its study on erosion and an emergency action plan.

It is possible to recover lost beaches through the use of wave breakers and other tools but it is expensive, Lo said.

The work has started in Saly, where boulders line the shore to break waves. Some beaches have already been recovered but the process stands incomplete for lack of funds.

These initiatives are inadequate and to solve the problem beach homes responsible for erosion in the town should be torn down, said Ousmane Diouf, an artist at the Filaos hotel.

“As long as man destroys nature, he destroys himself,” he said.


(By Makini Brice. Editing by Matthew Mpoke Bigg and Estelle Shirbon)

Read more

Mauritius tourist arrivals rise 10.4% in 10 months to Oct

Comments (0) Africa, Business, Latest Updates from Reuters

PORT LOUIS (Reuters) – The number of tourists visiting Mauritius rose 10.4 percent in the 10 months to October from the same period last year, with more arrivals from Asia, figures showed on Friday.

Tourism is an important component of the economy and a key source of hard currency for the Indian Ocean island state, best known for its luxury spas and beaches.

Arrivals increased to 912,770 during the period, the ministry of Tourism said. Numbers from Asia rose 24.1 percent to 166,487, with visitors from China up 42.4 percent.

“Barring any unexpected circumstances, we should attract an additional 100,000 tourists this year,” Xavier-Luc Duval, the minister of Tourism said in a statement.

Last month Duval told Reuters in an interview that a major focus was boosting numbers during the island’s winter season, running from June to September, by drawing more visitors from India, China, Africa and Russia.

The number of tourists visiting from Europe, which accounts for two-thirds, rose by 9.9 percent to 487,487.

Despite the rising numbers, central bank figures suggested tourist revenues in the first half had fallen by 3.5 percent. The tourism minister said hotels had not seen a revenue fall and the central bank has said it is reviewing its figures.


(Reporting by Jean Paul Arouff; editing by Drazen Jorgic and John Stonestreet)

Read more