Published On: Thu, Jul 2nd, 2015

Nigeria drops below WEF sub-Saharan Africa travels ranking

 

OREDOLA ADEOLA

 

Nigeria’s rating has fallen below the World Economic Forum (WEF) on Africa’s sub-Saharan Africa’s top 10 countries in travel and tourism competitiveness, for another year running, despite being the largest economy on the continent in 2014.

According to the WEF report, South Africa tops the African region and ranks 48th globally, Seychelles comes second, followed by Mauritius, Namibia, Kenya, Cape Verde, Botswana, Tanzania, Rwanda and Zambia, says the WEF Travel and Tourism Competitiveness Report 2015, released on the sidelines of the WEF on Africa.

South Africa’s high rank is due to its relatively good infrastructure compared with other African countries, and its efforts to reduce “red tape” and encourage business development in the tourism industry, according to the report.

The country also benefits from hosting the 2010 World Cup, as several stadiums are being used to hold large entertainment events, it adds.

The tourism industry accounts for nearly 9 percent of the Gross Domestic Product of African nations, but most African countries are still in the early stages of development for tourism, with challenges in issues of infrastructure, health and security, according to the report.

The majority of countries in the region realize tourism’s potential role as an economic opportunity and development catalyst, and have drafted strategic plans, said Tiffany Misrahi, one of the writers of the report.

He also noted the importance of protecting the rich natural resources on the continent.

“Indeed, deforestation and the loss of habitat and wildlife could become a serious issue for Africa’s tourism industry going forward,” said Misrahi.

He suggested that, aside from investing in infrastructure, hygiene and security, the continent could focus on travel facilitation and international cooperation to boost the industry.

For travel facilitation, he said most African countries still have many travel restrictions, and in some cases, such as that of South Africa, there are discussions of tightening visa policies.

International cooperation is critical in transforming intra- African connectivity, he said, noting that although many air markets between Africa and countries outside the continent have been liberalized, the majority of intra-African aviation remains largely closed due to restrictive bilateral agreements.

The WEF on Africa, which ended on Friday, brought together African and global leaders from governments, businesses and organizations to discuss the economic challenges and opportunities facing African countries

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