Industry experts have highlighted that investing in Africa’s tourism industry will support the continent’s economic recovery.
This was the topic of discussion during a webinar hosted by Africa Travel Week in partnership with Invest Africa.
Moderator of the webinar and MD of Tourism Economics EMEA, David Goodger, said while Africa had been hard hit by the COVID-19 pandemic, there were still investment opportunities in tourism.
“Looking ahead to the long run, we do see clear growth opportunities remaining there. There are still opportunities for which we believe investment is required to fully unlock.” He added that full economic recovery would not be possible without a focus on tourism.
According to Head of Africa Macro at NKC African Economics, Jacques Nel, most governments won’t have the fiscal capacity to drive these investments themselves. “This means they’ll have to somehow get the private sector on board and this could mean we’ll see a lot more private-sector involvement in numerous sectors.”
Nel added that when enticing investors to the continent these fiscal restraints needed to be kept top of mind. “If we get more investments in general in these countries it could really change the landscape and this will have a direct impact on tourism.”
What should be done to encourage investment?
Goodger asked panellists what they believed needed to be done to encourage investment on the continent.
Understanding investors’ attitude to risk in the tourism sector and how it might have changed would be an important factor, pointed out VP of Development for Africa and Turkey at Radisson Hotel Group, Ramsay Rankoussi.
He said, as a management company, Radisson was reliant on investors and this was a paramount consideration for the group. “We need to understand how the lending sector will contribute, and there will be a risk. That risk as we all know will be interest rates. We need to understand that moving forward, and if, perhaps, people will be even more risk-averse when working with the industry.”
He added that investors needed to be assured of the industry’s confidence in the tourism sector and reminded that the current setbacks were only temporary.
CEO of The Business Tourism Company, Rick Taylor, added that the importance of the tourism sector had only been emphasised by COVID-19. “I don’t think there’s a single economy that the sector doesn’t touch.” He explained that the nature of the sector to extend across economies was ultimately what would drive investors to it.