Currently, over 50 African countries are battling with the novel coronavirus (COVID-19). Aside from the deadly risks this pandemic pose to Africa’s health sector, several other sectors are at the verge of a collapse.
Among other industries, the tourism industry is experiencing one of the largest declines as a result of the pandemic. This multi-billion dollar industry had been projected to record over 77.3 million tourist arrivals by the end of 2020, but the industry is unlikely to record even half of that figure if the pandemic does not end before the 2nd half of the year.
Here are some of the African economies most affected by the impact of COVID-19 on tourism:
In Tanzania, revenue generated from tourism makes up about 17% of the country’s total economic wealth (measured as Gross Domestic Product, or GDP). Tanzania is one of the few countries in Africa whose economy depends greatly on tourism, with approximately 38% of its total land area set aside as protected areas for conservation. For a country that hosts over a million tourists annually, experts fear that the long term impact of COVID-19 pandemic on the Tanzanian tourism industry would be devastating, and it might take years to recover.
Africa’s tourism giant, Egypt is currently one of the biggest losers in this crisis --as tourism makes up about 12% of its national GDP. With over 2500 confirmed COVID-19 cases recorded in the country so far, tourist activities has come to a complete halt across major areas in the country. The major blow came when the opening of the Grand Egyptian Museum slated for later this year was moved to 2021. This epic event was expected to attract thousands of tourists from various parts of the world to Egypt.
3. South Africa:
Compared to any other sub-Saharan African country, South Africa sits top on the list of nations with the highest number of tourist visits annually. But tourism only accounts for about 3% of its GDP. In early March, the South African Tourism Minister, Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane, raised concerns over the negative effect the pandemic would have on the tourism industry. Although, recent developments show that his projections about the effect was understated, he was right about one thing: that the South African tourism industry will be in a major catastrophe at the end of the financial year, if this pandemic loom any further. For example: FIN24 recorded that South Africa receives about 95,000 Chinese tourists, and any sudden decline of more than 15% of Chinese arrivals equates to a loss of R200 million (or US$ 11). Of course, the decline in Chinese arrivals to the country is now over 15%.
The African tourism industry is currently going through a nightmare, one which has never been experienced in decades. At this point, when there is not yet a solution to what looks like an unending crisis, it is wise for African governments to set out strategies now that could help revive the tourism industry as soon as the worst of this crisis is over. This will determine how well and quickly affected economies will revive back after the crisis.
Author Credit: Ima-Abasi Joseph Pius