African tourism potential to be unlocked by boosting air connectivity
While effective air connectivity within Africa is key to unlocking the potentials of tourism on the continent, unfavorable visa regimes, insecurity, high cost of air transport and low quality of tourism support services among other factors are hindering the growth of tourism in Africa.
”The truth is that the performance of the region’s aviation industry, though improving, continues to lag behind that of the rest of the world, accounting for a dismal 3% of the global air transport traffic,“ Nigeria’s Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, said at the 65th Meeting of the United Nations World Tourism Organization-Commission for Africa (UNWTO-CAF) which opened in Tanzania on Wednesday (5 October).
“Of the 1,431 country pairs between the African Union countries, only 19% had some form of significant direct service in 2019 (that is operated at least once weekly on an annual basis),“ the minister added. He also urged African ministers of tourism to co-operate and collaborate with their colleagues African Ministers of Aviation to achieve the Single African Air Transport Market.
Reeling out statistics to back his assertion, the minister, who also listed unfavorable visa regimes, insecurity, high cost of air transport and low quality of tourism support services among other factors hindering the growth of tourism in Africa, said Africa’s share of global international arrivals remains a paltry 5%. He said that new routes and more frequencies will be needed to shorten flying time between many cities in Africa. As an example, he stressed that there was no regular direct service between the Democratic Republic of Congo and the Central African Republic. According to Mohammed, the most convenient routing available, which was via Morocco or West Africa, takes up to 15 hours while a direct service would take about 2 hours only.