The African Continental Free Trade Area (AFCFTA) is slowly gaining momentum and attraction. The trade pact which aims to create a single African market for goods and services, is gradually but eventually integrating the continent. It is estimated that AFCFTA has a combined gross domestic product of $3.4 trillion.
That is a massive market in which every entrepreneur would wish to own a share. However, the question: “how will the ordinary African entrepreneur, particularly startups, become active participants and not mere bystanders?” need to be answered.
Since 2019, the strategic Leaders’ Summit, has been bringing together seasoned practitioners in Africa-s SMES and startups space on the same platform for the purposes of sharing relevant and cutting-edge business-related information and growth strategies that help businesses thrive. This is a forum of top minds from different industries and sectors of the African economies whose aim is to share their experiences and expertise, learn, and grow together with purpose on the business journey. This year’s edition of the summit will equally dissect how AfCFTA will affect the tourism and hospitality industry.
Africa’s growing middle class and its soaring population estimated at more than 1.2 billion people, constitute an important player in this sector and have every reason to tap into AfCFTA.
In 2019, according to the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), Africa had the world’s second-fastest-growing tourism sector. It is estimated that 70 million international tourists visited Africa and brought in about US$170 billion in foreign exchange.
But with the emergence of COVID-19 and its numerous restrictions on travel and gatherings, the tourism and hospitality industry was one of the most affected sectors.
UNDP estimates that Africa lost 74 per cent of its international tourists. But in another report by World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC), “domestic tourism accounted for 55 per cent of travel and tourism spending in Africa in 2019, below the contribution of local tourism in North America (83 percent), Europe (64 percent) and Asia-Pacific (74 percent)”
There is no doubt that tourism plays a critical role in providing employment and much-needed revenue to the continent. These vital roles necessitated us to include tourism in this year’s Summit agenda.
AFCFTA is set to gradually remove trade barriers and allow free movement of people, goods and services across Africa. One of the reasons domestic tourism is low is travel barriers within the continent. Removing the barriers means easing travel and lowering associated costs. In the end, it will increase travel and tourism will thrive. With the ease of movement of people, businesspeople, including service providers, industrialists, labourers, and others, will require food and hotel services.
Undoubtedly, this will translate into an increase in demand for hotels and accommodation, air and land transportation. This, coupled with the removal of visas which have been very cumbersome in Africa, tourism will surely be a winner.
What are you doing to tap into this market? Well, experts will show you how.
Learn more about how AFCFTA will affect the hospitality industry from experts at this year’s summit.