Outbreak of Ebola epidemic in Africa was not the only drawback which greatly affected the continent’s tourism with, but negative perception of the continent had blacked its tourist glories.
It is estimated that some African destinations, mostly sub-Saharan Africa which hold the continent’s tourist hotspots have recorded a 25 percent cancellations from bookings made in United States, Europe and South East Asia.
The Southern, Central and Eastern African safari destinations had reported some cases of tourist cancellations submitted by package tour operators and a section of airlines.
But, not only Ebola disease which had recently painted a black spot on the African tourist map, also the US and European public media outlets, coupled with poor marketing budgets, had all made Africa a continent of no-choice to potential global tourists.
Giving his overview of the global tourist trend and the position of this continent on global tourism map, Tanzanian president Mr. Jakaya Kikwete said Africa lags behind in both attracting international tourists and in revenue earnings despite having many tourist attractive spots for both leisure and adventure.
He told delegates attending Tanzania’s first-ever tourism exhibition, the Swahili International Tourism expo (SITES) that Africa received about 56 million international tourists which accounts for only five percent of the world tourist share.
The Tanzanian president further said Asia received 23 percent of
tourists and gained 31 percent of the global tourist share, while Europe hit the jackpot of 52 percent of tourist arrivals and 42 percent of income.
But, negative perception of the African continent through the leading global public media outlets, had greatly affected the African tourism, he said.
On the other hand, he told the SITES event participants that African
tourist stakeholders and policy makers should take responsibility to
tell stories and be proactive in telling own stories louder than
looking for tourists and foreign media outlets to take the role.
He further expressed his optimism to see Africa gaining tourist
opportunities come the year 2030 through concerted efforts currently being undertaken by African government on development of tourism infrastructure.
Much more as well, Mr. Kikwete said, there is a great need to improve
perception of the African continent and embark on designing and
formatting tourism exhibitions like SITES event which aimed at
branding and promotional initiatives for the African tourism.
“We must do more to reach our tourists to visit Africa and Tanzania. While it is incumbent upon us African to do so, it is fair to ask tour operators and other players gathered here to use their good offices and influence to promote African tourism”, said the President.
There was as well, a recorded increase by 8.2 percent of tourist gains of US dollars 1.8 billion against the US dollars 1.7 billion recorded the previous year.
Accordingly, Tanzania gained US dollars 2.0 billion by end of June this year through an increase of 12.3 percent annual tourism growth an indication that tourism is Tanzania’s second leading foreign exchange earner after gold.