Africa’s tourism numbers decline by 3 percent to 53 million in 2015

The number of international tourists declined by 3 percent in Africa, reaching a total of 53 million in 2015, the UN World Tourism Organization said Monday.

Tourism arrivals decreased by 8 percent in North Africa and in Sub-Saharan Africa by 1 percent, though the latter returned to positive growth in the second half of the year, UNWTO said in the latest report received in Nairobi.

Some African countries such as Kenya, Nigeria, Tunisia and Egypt’s travel and tourism industry have been battered by security fears and crime.

However, Kenya has improved security along the coastal region and offered massive incentives that are likely to revitalize tourism which it depends for the hard foreign currency.

Globally, international tourist arrivals grew by 4.4 percent in 2015 to reach a total of 1.18 billion in 2015, the UNWTO World Tourism Barometer shows.

Some 50 million more tourists (overnight visitors) travelled to international destinations around the world last year as compared to 2014.

UNWTO Secretary-General, Taleb Rifai said international tourism reached new heights in 2015, adding that the robust performance of the sector is contributing to economic growth and job creation in many parts of the world.

“It is thus critical for countries to promote policies that foster the continued growth of tourism, including travel facilitation, human resources development and sustainability,” Rifai said.

The tourism body said 2015 marks the 6th consecutive year of above-average growth, with international arrivals increasing by 4 percent or more every year since the post-crisis year of 2010.

According to UNWTO, China, with double-digit growth in expenditure every year since 2004, continues to lead global outbound travel, benefiting Asian destinations such as Japan and Thailand, as well as the U.S. and various European destinations.

“By contrast, expenditure from the previously very dynamic source markets of the Russian Federation and Brazil declined significantly, reflecting the economic constraints in both countries and the depreciation of the rouble and the real against virtually all other currencies,” it said.

The report says expenditure from the United States which is the world’s second largest source market, and Britain was boosted by a strong currency and rebounding economy.

Spending from Germany, Italy and Australia grew at a slower rate, all increased by 2 percent, while demand from Canada and France was rather weak.

The world tourism body had predicted international tourism arrivals would rise by between 3-4 percent in 2015 after increasing by 4.7 percent in 2014.

The appreciation of the U.S. dollar stimulated outbound travel from the United States, benefiting the Caribbean and Central America, both recording 7 percent growth. Results in South America and North America (both at rose by 4 percent) were close to the average.