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Rise of Sustainable Tourism in Africa

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Rise of Sustainable Tourism in Africa

Sustainable tourism in Africa is also proving to be a catalyst for growth and opportunity, with countries such as Rwanda being positioned as the greenest on the continent.

Africa’s most visited destinations thanks to sustainable tourism

Tunisia: African tourism champion

Tunisia stands out as the champion of African tourism thanks to its rich and diverse heritage. It offers a wide range of activities, from excursions by bus or 4×4 to cultural and historical visits. It is also renowned for its exceptional sites, from deserts to sparkling bodies of water. The diversity of its landscapes and its immense culture make it a destination of choice for travelers seeking authenticity.

According to the Ministry of Tourism, the tourism sector in Tunisia is one of the most important for the country’s economy, generating significant revenues and having an impact on other economic sectors such as transport, communications, crafts, trade, and construction. Tourism accounts for 14.2 % of Tunisia’s GDP.

What’s more, Tunisia is renowned for its affordable accommodation, making it a popular destination for backpackers. Highlights include Tunis, Tozeur, Carthage, Douz (the gateway to the Sahara), Chott el-Djérid, Dougga, El Jem, Ksar-Ghilane, Sidi Bou Saïd, Oudna, Bulla Regia and Ksar Ouled Soltane.

Tourism in Tunisia took off in the 1960s and is now one of the country’s main sources of income, attracting millions of visitors every year.

Morocco: a must-visit destination

Morocco, a country of great diversity, is one of the top tourist destinations in North Africa. It attracts visitors not only for its cultural richness but also for the variety of its landscapes, from the beaches to the Atlas Mountains and the Sahara.

Marrakech, often cited as the best place on the African continent, is famous for its Jamaâ El Fna square, a place unique in the world.

Imlil, a must-see hiking destination, offers a unique experience between the sea, forests, deserts, and mountains.

The Dades Gorge, comparable to the American Grand Canyon, is one of the most beautiful places in Morocco and can be explored by car for spectacular views.

Morocco is renowned for its wide range of activities: swimming, cultural visits, surfing, gastronomy, hammams, trekking and more. Its place in the top 10 must-see tourist destinations is justified by many travelers, although it still needs to work hard to shine in this sector. Tourism accounts for around 7% of Morocco’s national GDP.

Best tourist country in Africa

Rwanda, Africa’s greenest country

Like South Africa, the green jewel of the continent, Rwanda has an exemplary environmental policy and commitment to sustainable development. Nicknamed the « Land of a Thousand Hills », it offers lush nature, unique landscapes, and impressive biodiversity, both in the wilderness and in national parks.

  • First African nation to ban single-use plastic bags.
  • Rolling countryside with vast tea plantations, a key product in the local economy.
  • Rich wildlife, including mountain gorillas, benefits from government conservation programs.

Tourism contributes 13 % of Rwanda’s GDP, providing 132,000 jobs.

Tourism assets

Rwanda is also praised for its responsible, community-based tourism policy. It attracts travelers seeking environmentally responsible experiences, with a focus on eco-friendly luxury tourism and wildlife conservation. The capital, Kigali, stands out as a clean and green city, offering a favorable climate for business and investment.

Finally, Rwanda and South Africa have used tourism as a lever for economic growth, generating substantial revenues while preserving their natural and cultural heritage.

Business tourism in Africa: a sector with great potential

Over the years, business travel in Africa has grown significantly and has become an increasingly important economic sector for the continent. Often associated with higher spending than leisure travel, business travel contributes significantly to the economic attractiveness of this rapidly expanding sector.

Countries such as Côte d’Ivoire are positioning themselves as key business travel destinations and have seen significant growth in the number of foreign visitors in recent years. Africa’s promising potential for business tourism is based on several key factors:

  • Increased economic activity on the continent, with the emergence of new industries and the expansion of existing markets.
  • Improved transport and accommodation infrastructure, making business travel easier.
  • Increased investment in the business sector in general.
  • The organization of international events such as conferences and summits, attracts professionals from around the world.

However, despite this promising potential, Africa’s tourism sector faces several challenges, such as improving transport and accommodation infrastructure, creating a more conducive business environment, and promoting Africa as an international investment destination.

Sustainable tourism in Africa

Africa’s tourism sector is undergoing a major metamorphosis, driven by the desire to develop sustainably. This evolution is supported by the World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO), with its emphasis on employment, training, and the promotion of targeted investments in the sector.

Despite the impact of COVID-19, 2022 saw a significant upturn in tourism activity in Africa, with a notable increase in foreign arrivals. Four countries, including South Africa, alone accounted for 64 % of arrivals to the continent.

Pillars of Sustainable Tourism

The transformation of Africa’s tourism sector has been driven by a strong desire to ensure a sustainable future and a way of life that respects nature. Thus, sustainable development is not limited to environmental considerations, but extends to the search for a long-term future for the sector, based on partnerships that benefit local communities.

According to the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) and the Indian Ocean Travel & Tourism Council, the industry could contribute up to 168 billion USD to Africa’s GDP and create 18 million new jobs over the next decade.

Critical importance of progress on sustainable tourism in Africa

The development of sustainable tourism in Africa is a key challenge for the socio-economic development of the continent and the Indian Ocean. Promoting an approach that respects the environment and benefits the livelihoods of local communities helps to reconcile the appeal of tourism with the conservation of natural resources, particularly in national parks. Whether traveling to Africa or through an ecotourism experience, this approach highlights the richness of Africa’s natural heritage while raising travelers’ awareness of the need to protect its flora and fauna.

Fairtrade or sustainable tourism promotes an inclusive economy in the Indian Ocean region and Africa in general. Economic spin-offs can be reinvested in local projects, contributing to community development and job creation in the private sector.

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