Africa’s share of international tourist arrivals is expected to increase from 50 million to 60 million this year, according to the latest United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) barometer.
This is out of the landmark 1 billion international tourist arrivals expected to be attained this year worldwide.
UNWTO secretary general Taleb Rifai disclosed this at a news conference in Madrid, Spain, on Monday ahead of the International Tourism Trade Fair (FITUR) which started yesterday in the Spanish capital.
The news conference held at the UNWTO headquarters in Madrid also marked the beginning of the international tourism calendar.
Ministry of Information, Broadcasting and Tourism permanent secretary Amos Malupenga, other officials from the ministry and Zambia Tourism Board are in Madrid to attend the fair, which has brought together leading tourism experts to debate tourism policies and trends for 2012.
“Africa maintained international tourist arrivals at 50 million in 2011 but projections are that the continent will attain between 4 and 6 percent in international tourist arrivals in 2012,” said the UNWTO secretary general.
Giving an overview of international tourism results for 2011 and forecasts for this year, Mr Rifai said internationaltourist arrivals grew by 4.4 percent globally in 2011 to a total of 980 million, up from 939 million in 2010, a year characterised by a stalled global economic recovery, major political changes in the Middle East and North Africa as well as natural disasters in Japan.
“For a sector directly responsible for 5 percent of the world’s Gross Domestic Product, 6 percent of the world’s total exports and employing one out of every 12 people in advanced and emerging economies worldwide, these results are encouraging,” Mr Rifai said.
The UNWTO chief also advised governments to make international travel easier by taking advantage of the information and communication technologies to improve on visa application and processing formalities.
“Travel facilitation is closely interlinked with tourism development and can be key to boosting demand. This area is of particular relevance in a moment in which governments are looking to stimulate economic growth through tourism,” he said.