Key statistics of EDAR 2017 "Tourism for transformative and inclusive growth"

Tourism is a dynamic and fast growing sector in Africa, it boasted virtually uninterrupted growth from 1995 to 2014 (annual average growth of 6% for arrivals and 9% for international tourism receipts and tourism export revenues)

Since 1995, the tourism sector in Africa has expanded significantly, in terms of international tourist arrivals, international tourism receipts and export revenues. But following the global and economic financial crisis of 2008/09, volatility of these flows has increased.

International tourist arrivals; international tourism receipts; tourism export revenues in Africa - 1995-2014
Tourism export revenues - TER
(US$ Million)
Sources: UNWTO data.
Notes: International tourism receipts correspond to the UNWTO series inbound tourism expenditures on travel. Tourism export revenues correspond to the UNWTO series total inbound tourism expenditures, which includes inbound tourism expenditures on travel within the country of destination and inbound tourism expenditures on international passenger transport services.

Tourism is a key contributor to GDP and employment in different types of African countries, but particularly in small island and developing states (SIDS)

In Africa, tourism's total contribution to GDP (which includes the direct contribution, indirect and imputed impacts) increased from an average of 6.8 per cent of GDP in 1995-1998 to 8.5 per cent of GDP in 2011-2014. The three most tourism driven countries, in terms of the sector's contribution to GDP, are all SIDS: Seychelles (62 per cent), Cabo Verde (43 per cent) and Mauritius (27 per cent). African oil-exporting economies are the least tourism dependent countries.

Tourism is also an important employer in Africa: In 2011-2014, tourism generated on average more than 21 million jobs, or approximately 1 out of 14 jobs. As a labour-intensive sector with low entry barriers and strong absorptive capacity for job creation for both unskilled and skilled workers, tourism can stimulate inclusive growth and diversification of African economies.

Tourism's contribution to GDP and employment in Africa - Average 2011-2014
Source: UNCTAD calculations, based on data from the World Travel and Tourism Council.

Total contribution of tourism to GDP by country, region and REC, by year and period averages, and indication of country category

Share of total contribution to employment in tourism in total employment, by country, region and REC, by year and period averages, and indication of country category

Note: Total contribution refers to GDP generated directly by the travel and tourism sector plus its indirect and induced impacts.

Note: Total employment refers to the number of jobs generated directly in the travel and tourism sector plus indirect and induced contributions.

Africa's intra-regional tourism is growing and important in terms of volume and value

Continental and intra-regional tourism in Africa is increasing with about 4 out of 10 international tourists originating from within Africa. In Northern Africa, this ratio is 2 out of 10, while in Sub-Saharan Africa 2 out of 3 international tourists originate from the continent.

International tourist arrivals to Africa from the world and from within Africa

Data on intra-regional tourist arrivals (within Regional Economic Communities) were specifically compiled for this report. Data are available for the AMU, COMESA, EAC and SADC. Regional integration can support intra-regional tourism through streamlined and less stringent visa requirements, open skies, convertible currencies and tourism policies that plan for intra-regional tourism.

Intra-regional tourist arrivals within selected RECs: AMU, COMESA, EAC and SADC

Intra-African Tourism  

Tourism is a major category of Africa’s international trade in services

In 2011-2014, tourism export revenues accounted for 46 per cent of services exports and 7 per cent of total exports. However, these shares were below the 2005-2008 average.

Tourism export revenues as a share of total services exports and total exports by country, region and REC, and period averages

Tourism Services Exports Share  


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