Experts Forecast: African Tourism Priorities for 2020


All too soon, the curtains will be drawn for the year 2019 with fireworks welcoming 2020 amidst the New Year’s Eve parties ushering us into another great year. As has been the case in all spheres, resolutions will be the talking point as we plan for the year.

Tourism has seen some growth and continues to make its way in order of Government priorities. The World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) through its Commission for Africa (CAF) meeting adopted the Agenda for Africa-2030 for inclusive development. The Agenda captures it well the pressing needs of the continent when it comes to making tourism the positive driver for economic development. This blueprint got underway in earnest with the regional congress on women empowerment in the tourism sector and the recommendations are expected to be adopted by member states.

The African Union Commission in partnership with the African development bank released the visa openness report which indicated some success in AU’s Agenda 2063 goal of having open boarders and expected to spur economic growth in the continent.

Tourism as a public private venture, we solicited the opinions of experts, policy leaders and media about how Africa’s tourism sector should take in 2020.

Kwakye Donkor-CEO African Tourism Partners, South Africa
2020 Global Tourism forecast is positive. Key trends that will drive this include increased demand for travel technology, sustainable products and Meetings, Incentives, Conferences and Exhibitions (MICE) / Business Events. African stakeholder will, however, have to go beyond the status quo of traditional tourism development and destination marketing. Innovation and clear focus on a destination’s distinctive competencies and comparative advantages will be extremely critical

Oulimata Sarr- Regional Director of UN Women, West & Central Africa
Tourism is a driver of economic growth in Africa. Anchored on our UN principle of no one left behind, we must ensure that women are not confined to low paying jobs in the industry. We would like to see them in position of leadership at the policy level, entrepreneurs providing goods and services to the sector, a well remunerated work force

Zina Bencheikh
Regional General Manager Europe, Middle East and North Africa- Peak DMC

My main resolution for the upcoming year is to look at more ways to combat gender stereotypes and focus on creating more openings for African women trying to break into the tourism field. Having seen the power of the tourism industry to create long-term change for women – and having been part of it myself – I am optimistic for the future of African tourism and women in particular.

Prof. Wolfgang Thome- Publisher of ATC News- Uganda
Africa Tourism in 2020 – Full of opportunities and hope
Tourism is often described as a people business and one thing unites people more than anything else – HOPE. Under attack in 2019 and being mobbed by opponents of airlines, cruise lines and action groups generally heaping blame on the tourism industry – provider of 1 out of every 10 jobs around the world – is it time for the industry to stand up and reclaim the high ground. Tourism like no other industry unites people, brings them together and by doing so creates opportunities and gives hope to other economic sectors and in fact the entire world, that mankind can meet the challenges next year and beyond.

Nunurai Ndawana
Public Relations and Corporate Communications Officer
Civil Aviation Authority of Zimbabwe

2019 has been a turbulent time for both tourism and aviation in African. Amid the turbulences we saw some signs of growth and stability. In 2020 I am expecting to see more African States opening up those borders to fellow African states. This as we have seen in Ghana and Mauritius has correlation to stimulating both trade and commences. In aviation I hope to see African carriers, implement more sustainable business models and for more African cities to be interlinked to one another.

Judy Kepher-Gona
Executive Director
Sustainable Travel & Tourism Agenda

Tourism in Africa enjoys continuous growth, partly made possible by prevailing peace conditions in many countries, air accessibility and diversity of attractions supporting investments. However, the strides in this growth outpace community wellbeing in destinations. To optimize tourism impacts on community wellbeing, Africa should take advantage of the increasing awareness of need for sustainable development through the SDGs, and steer the sector towards sustainable management of resource dimensions of tourism.

Anita Mendiratta
President Anita Mendiratta & Associates & Special Adviser to UNWTO Secretary-General

As we all know, demand for ‘Brand AFRICA’ is embedded in strategies & agendas continent-wide. Its absence is blamed, repeatedly and widely, for negative perceptions that damage tourism potential. But Brand Africa already exists – Africa is a known entity. Known, yes. Owned, no. In 2020 it is dearly hoped that African nations take ownership of articulating and activating what, as 1 continent and 54 destinations, is Africa – by narrative, not by logos – enabling leaders to finally make Brand Africa a shared communications movement championing our true stories, not stereotypes.

Lou Ann Daniels – Travel Editor, IOL- South Africa
In 2020 I will be shifting my focus away from soft tourism stories and concentrate on the bigger picture. It’s not enough to drive tourism to African countries. We need to play our part in holistically addressing the economic plight of our continent. Where necessary, our stories need to reflect the impact of Western sanctions or changes in aid policies. It’s time to tell the stories that really matter.

Elcia Grandcourt -UNWTO /Regional Director for Africa
A major milestone has been achieved with the endorsement and adoption of the UNWTO AGENDA FOR AFRICA 2030 – Tourism for inclusive growth at the 23rd General Assembly, St. Petersburg, Russia, September 2019. UNWTO´s commitment in the years ahead is to continue to work alongside our member states to facilitate travel movements, eliminate known visa and air access restrictions to step change traveler movements while reducing time and expenses and encourage a more unified approach in unlocking the huge tourism potential that exists in the continent.

Thomas Mueller – CEO- RainMaker Africa- South Africa
“The African Hospitality and Tourism sector is facing huge challenges. Value chains have dramatically changed, distribution channels significantly increased and technology is changing daily. The cost of distribution increased and is no longer sustainable. 2020 is the year of economic sustainability. 2020 is the year destinations gain back control of visibility, digital-presence, reputation, and distribution. 2020 is the year to keep more tourism spend in destinations for sustainable tourism development.”

Mohammed Hersi – Chairman Kenya Tourism Federation
Africans must open the borders to each other. Visa between Africans should be eradicated. If 10% of our population was to travel we are talking of 120Million travellers which double the international numbers that came to Africa.

Franck Olivier Kra- Editor, Ebiz- Africa
Having travelled the African Continent, one discovers its potential, its very varied and still wild beauty (which constitutes a comparative advantage), its originality and the dynamism of the sector. From north to south and from east to west, this part of the planet never ceases to surprise you because Africa is what I will call the ‘’Africas’’ due to its speaking and expressive diversity in the pure sense of the word. For 2020, my battle horse will be to show the dynamism of the sector and how innovation in sustainable, inclusive tourism can change the daily lives of those involved in the sector.

David Gonahasa- Director & Founder,
“I predict increase in intra Africa tourist numbers driven by the easing of visa restrictions, the implementation of the continental free trade area, and increased interest in tourism for development by continental APEX political organizations. I also foresee growth driven by technology; An increase in online bookings and a stronger reliance on online marketing by tour agents, this driven by the advancement of platforms technologies and payment solutions.”

David Desta
A graduate of the world-famous Cornell University School of Hotel Administration, David is passionate about hospitality, travel, and tourism on the African continent. I would like to see the efforts of SAATM materialize and the improvement of visa facilitation for inter-African travel. The benefits of an open-skies policy would not only increase intra-regional mobility, trade, and tourism but also lay down the path for continental integration. SAATM will help improve flight schedules and routes, but most importantly, provide travelers with more choices and cheaper fares. Hopefully, in time, Africans will no longer be viewed as migrants, but as tourists within their own continent.

Richard Kyereh
Head of Commercial –Africa World Airlines

Entering 2020 with the “year of return”, we should reorient our mindsets to develop, boost, repackage domestic & intra Africa tourism to generate and contribute positively to the economies of Africa!

Dr Adun Okupe
Senior Advisor –Red Clay- Nigeria

I am looking forward to a stronger focus on tourism education in Africa for 2020.
At Red Clay, we resolve to further develop advanced tourism education, making the industry attractive for our best minds – the people we need to ensure Africa achieves its tourism potential. Africa is such a wonderful and beautiful continent with talented and dedicated people they can attain their highest professional ambitions in the industry and contribute to sustainable tourism development in Africa.

Susan Muumbi
Sub-Editor-The EastAfrican

Tourism in Africa is looking up in 2020. As the African Continental Free Trade Area agreement comes into effect, borders and skies will be open to greater movement of people. Africans can travel easier. They need to know where to go depending on their interests, beach, safari, food, culture… What to do when they get there and how to enjoy their experiences responsibly. As a journalist, my aim is to inform and educate on new developments in tourism and to see Africans leave their comfort zones and discover the continent and indeed the world.

Jon Howell, CEO and Founder, AviaDev
For African governments to recognise the impact of the aviation sector and then support and nurture it accordingly. Airlines should be treated as valued partners and not simply a source of taxation revenue.


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