Looking at the results, you will see that South Africa is leading the way, ranking 48th globally and toping the African region, thanks in part to its relatively good infrastructure compared to neighbouring countries. South Africa is still reaping the benefits of the 2010 World Cup, with several sports stadiums that can host significant entertainment events. South Africa also ranked relatively high due to its efforts to reduce red tape and encourage business development in the tourism industry.
While it is clear that Africa has enormous potential with its rich natural and cultural resources, it is still for the most part in the early stages of development for travel and tourism. Its challenges are not linked to its incredible resources, but rather to broader and longstanding issues facing the continent such as infrastructure, health and hygiene and security. Even though Africa received relatively strong results on issues relating to sustainability, the continent should keep sustainability as a central element as they develop. Indeed, deforestation and the loss of habitat and wildlife could become a serious issue for Africa’s tourism industry going forward.
The majority of countries in the region realize tourism’s potential role as an economic opportunity and development catalyst, and have drafted strategic plans. But, the implementation of those plans across countries varies significantly. So what can be done? Aside from investing in its broader issues including infrastructure, hygiene and security, the African continent could focus on two elements, among others, relating specifically to travel and tourism policies.
The first is travel facilitation. In effect, most countries in the region still have significant travel restrictions, and in some cases, such as that of South Africa, there are even discussions of tightening visa policies.
Overall, Africa requires a traditional visa prior to departure from 58% of the world’s population. At the same time, it has the highest percentage of countries whose visitors are able to obtain a visa on arrival (31%). This figure varies across regions. For instance, Central African nations require 91% of the world’s population to get a traditional visa – the highest in the African sub-region. On the other hand, East Africa has the lowest requirements in the world; only 31% of the world’s population is required to have traditional visas.