After two years plagued by the COVID19 pandemic, 2022 should rhyme with African tourism recovery. And new opportunities are on the horizon, while trends are being confirmed…
Three times more international arrivals in the first quarter of 2022, than in the same period in 2021, that is to say 117 million this year against 41 million last year according to the World Tourism Organization (WTO). The forecasts are confirmed. 2022 will be the year of the recovery of tourism after two years plagued by the COVID-19, on the international as well as continental scenes. Although Europe and the Americas are leading the sector’s rebound, the recovery in tourist flows will also benefit other territories, according to the UNWTO. Indeed, Africa (+96%) has also seen strong growth in the first quarter of 2022 compared to 2021, even arrivals (61%) remain below 2019 levels. That said, the summer looks promising: the gradual recovery should continue throughout 2022, since more destinations ease or lift travel restrictions as vaccination campaigns accelerate.
« Despite the setback caused by COVID-19, tourism has shown resilience and is recovering »
This makes the Organization optimistic: for the first time since the beginning of the pandemic, the index has returned to 2019 levels. The same optimism is reported in the sector’s stakeholders. According to the latest survey by the UNWTO group of experts, a large majority of tourism professionals (83%) see a better outlook for 2022 compared to 2021. In addition, more experts (48%) now see a possible return of international arrivals to 2019 levels in 2023 (compared to 32% in the January survey). However, this positive assessment needs to be qualified, as certain obstacles continue to stand in the way of a recovery in international tourism. This is the case with the conflict between the Russian Federation and Ukraine, which is having a major economic impact on the global economy, exacerbating already high oil prices and general inflation and disrupting international supply chains.
A context discussed at Africa’s Travel Indaba, the continent’s largest tourism trade show, held in early May in Durban, South Africa. Despite the setback caused by COVID-19, tourism has shown resilience and is recovering,” said South Africa’s Deputy Minister of Tourism Fish Mahlalela at the start of the event.
« Alongside flagship destinations, new, lesser known but increasingly attractive destinations are emerging »
South Africa, the continent’s flagship tourist destination, has however been largely penalized by the pandemic, which has led to the collapse of a sector that accounts for 7% of GDP. But after lifting all restrictions, local authorities are determined to revive the activity. And promising signs are appearing. Cape Town International Airport has retained its title of Best Airport in Africa in the Skytrax World Airport Awards for the seventh consecutive year. This shows the destination still has solid assets.
Another ranking, another African flagship destination. Morocco. The latter recently ranked in the top 10 most popular destinations in Africa according to the Airbnb platform, with Agadir in 30ᵉ place, Taghazout in 4ᵉ and Kenitra in 6ᵉ position, thus dominating the ranking at the African level. In the same ranking, we find Cotonou (Benin) in the lead ahead of Kinshasa (Congo), Salasi (Reunion Island) in fifth place and Dahab (Egypt) in seventh place.
Intra-African tourism and e-tourism, trends that are confirmed
Thus, alongside the flagship destinations, new, lesser known but increasingly attractive destinations are emerging. Notably with African tourists. This is the trend. It was triggered during the pandemic when airports and borders were closed and tourism actors had no alternative but to rely on local tourism.