ECA’s Biha calls for aviation-tourism convergence in Africa
A two-day meeting looking into the aviation and tourism industries in Africa opened in Addis Ababa Thursday with the Economic Commission for Africa’s Deputy Executive Secretary Ms. Giovanie Biha urging experts to focus on ways through which the continent can maximise the cooperative opportunities for the two sectors.
In her opening remarks to the two-day meeting at the United Nations Conference Centre (UNCC), Ms. Giovanie said aviation’s central role in supporting tourism is well acknowledged but said more still needs to be done on the continent to harmonise aviation and tourism policies.
“With increased connectivity warranting long term growth for aviation and tourism, the interlinked sectors represents lasting opportunities for all those involved in the tourism value chain,” said Ms. Biha.
“But if these socio-economic benefits are to fully harnessed, tourism and aviation must address persisting divergent policies and work towards a stronger, integrated position on inter-sectorial issues.”
Last year 53 percent of over 1.2 billion tourists travelled by air to reach international destinations in 2014. This number covered 80 percent for Landlocked Developing Countries (LLDCs) and Small Island Developing States (SIDS).
Equally important, said Ms. Biya, is the fact that aviation and tourism jointly supports in excess of 58 million jobs and more than 2.4 trillion dollars in global GDP.
The ECA is hosting the two-day experts’ meeting to look into a new report on aviation and tourism policies in Africa as tourism fast becomes an important vehicle for the continent’s economic development.
The meeting will review and validate the report, titled ‘Fostering Africa’s Tourism Growth: The Aviation and Tourism Policy’, as the continent looks for ways to tap into the growing international tourism receipts.
The report, commissioned by the ECA on the two economic sectors, identifies a number of factors, including unfavourable regulatory environments, policies that limit air connectivity, restrictive visa regimes, uncoordinated consumer protection regulations, restrictive taxes, among others levies, as constraining the growth of the two industries.
Speaking ahead of the meeting, RITD Director, Stephen Karingi said; “A collective and effective strategy to address these challenges will enable the symbiotic growth for the tourism and air transport to stimulate growth of the overall economy and create opportunities for employment and entrepreneurship as Africa continues to enjoy sustained tourism growth.”
The tourism sector’s contribution to GDP on the continent ranges from 4.5% on the lower end in Burundi for example, and 56.5% on the higher level for a country like Seychelles.
The United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) projects that international tourist arrivals will increase by approximately 3.3% every year from 2010 to reach 1.8 billion by 2030.
The region’s share of international tourist arrivals, according to 2013 figures, was low at about 5% of the global total.
Experts blame the general poor performance of Africa’s aviation industry, which accounted for a mere 3% of global air transportation in 2013, for Africa’s low share in international tourist arrivals.
“It is because of this that the ECA has organised the expert group meeting to look into all these issues,” says Karingi.
Regional stakeholders from both the aviation and tourism sectors on the continent are attending the meeting.