Click here for search results

State of Tourism in Africa

Tourism in Africa

The World Bank together with the Africa House at New York University (NYU), and the Africa Travel Association (ATA) have prepared a joint publication on the  State of Tourism in Africa. This publication is built around presenting the case for tourism in Africa and includes tourism facts, data, figures and success stories of countries across the continent.

The State of Tourism in Africa is of great value to those working with tourism in the region and those interested in its economic potential. Tourism is growing as an economic generator across Africa and we are receiving an increasing number of inquiries from our client countries. For more information about the publication State of Tourism in Africa or tourism related initiatives with which the World Bank is currently engaged, please contact us and we will be happy to answer your questions and share resources.


The World Bank
May, 2010

Air transport is perceived as a major constraint to Africa’s tourism development. Many argue high airfares are a handicap for destinations while others point to the inconvenient and insufficient service of scheduled or even charter services. Still others argue that Africa’s airspace and planes are unsafe. Recent research on North Africa and Sub Saharan (SSA) air transport trends highlights some useful findings for tourism stakeholders.

Decisions on airline routings are driven by a mix of domestic, interregional, international, and cargo demands. They are
also affected by air transport liberalization, ease and cost of doing business (landing rights, baggage handling), and
fuel costs. In late 2007, 280 of Africa’s 2,900 airports had regularly scheduled services. World Bank analysis in November 2009 found 66% of SSA countries either lack major carrier connections or depend on one airline. Limited airline service translates into limited flights and frequency—and an invitation for prospective leisure travelers to go elsewhere.

Further 2009 research concluded that the number of available runways and their general condition is not a constraint for North Africa. Runways at 60% of the airports were found to be in excellent condition in comparison to 17% in SSA. North Africa airports are handling today’s passengers with ease while SSA airports are challenged by insufficient apron space, limited use of taxi ways and terminal space for high volumes of passenger traffic is limited. Rather than runways being the greatest challenge—the quality of landbased air transport infrastructure is a significant constraint, especially for SSA.

SSA air traffic can be better understood in context to other areas. For example, SSA air traffic reached roughly 72.3 million
seats in 2007—just ahead of Madrid’s total air traffic volume of 68.5 million. The combined domestic traffic for SSA (27.5 million) was twice the overall traffic for the French city of Nice at 13.1 million. North and Sub-Saharan African markets combined totaled about 122.4 million seats, while the U.S. city of Atlanta, Georgia alone posted 103.9 million in 2007.

Despite a small base, Africa’s growth rates are impressive. Africa’s air transport industry grew at a robust rate of 5.76
percent per year between 2001-2007 (as measured in seat kms).

For air transport in Africa to compete with other regions, the inconsistent quality of land-based infrastructure can be
addressed first by updating airports and terminals rather than building new airports. To address safety concerns, increasing safety oversight by poolingresources and capacity building is necessary. Finally, improving data collection on the air transport sector at all airports is encouraged in order to assist both the public and private sector with their planning
for success.

Permanent URL for this page: