The contribution of tourism to African economic and social development should not be underestimated, according to the hosts of a new tourism industry event designed to explore possibilities of investment in the region.
Continent wide direct contribution from the travel and tourism sector towards GDP is expected to rise from US$76.5bn in 2011 to US$129.1bn in 2021 (World Travel & Tourism Council).
Furthermore, total contribution to employment (including those indirectly supported by the industry) will rise from 18,173,000 jobs in 2011 to 23,801,000 jobs in 2021.
At the Hotel Investment Conference Africa (HICA) on September 26th and 27th in Casablanca, Morocco, the hotel community and those who finance its development will convene to discuss the African hotel investment opportunity and will hear from prominent hoteliers and investors on the case for, among other regions, West Africa.
Among the top speakers addressing the conference is Paul Ansah, vice president, International Hotel Development (Africa) for Marriott International and The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company, who believes: “West Africa illuminates the substantial opportunities for investment funds seeking significant returns, by virtue of the fact that the region encapsulates every aspect of the infrastructural challenges faced by the African continent.
“Remarkable economic growth projections, combined with imbalances in the demand/supply/quality dynamic, make West Africa a prime target for hotel investment,” added Ansah.
He will be exploring why Accra, Ghana is considered a ‘Hot City’ at the conference.
Ansah will also explain why Ghana is fast becoming a sought after tourism destination.
Ghana as a Tourism Hotspot
Ghana’s strong economic performance plays a pivotal role in its development.
The direct contribution of the Ghanaian travel and tourism sector to GDP is expected to rise by 4.5 per cent per year to a total of 2.6 per cent in 2021 (WTTC).
The sector currently supports (both directly and indirectly) a total of 319,000 jobs, which is set to rise to 368,000 jobs by 2021.
Finally, investment in the sector will be 3.6 per cent of total investment by 2021.
The travel and tourism sector can also be a force for social and economic change, as highlighted by the oil rich nation of Nigeria whose Bureau of Statistics states that “tourism is an activity of increasing social and economic importance”.
Nigeria may not be the conventional choice for tourists or investors outside the natural resources sector, but as this oil rich country seeks to diversify its economy, it has identified tourism as the key growth prospect.
For example The Rezidor Hotel Group plans to open its 7th hotel in Nigeria.
The Park Inn Lagos, Apapa will feature 125 rooms and is due to open in 2013.
Hotels and restaurants contributed just 0.5 per cent to the GDP of Nigeria in 2010 but this is expected to rise to 1.1 per cent in 2011 (WTTC).
Savvy investors have already turned to Gambia for quick returns.
With its stable and peaceful political and economic conditions investors have found the investment opportunity to be “quick and easy” (Insight Global 2011).
No sector plays as important a role as the tourism sector, 12 per cent of the country’s GDP is dependent on it and the sector is the largest foreign exchange earner for the country (a trend shared with the continent’s primary tourist destination, South Africa).
Additionally, the World Bank recently released US$3m to support the tourism sector in Gambia whilst the government has provided 3m Dalasi for a new tourism marketing strategy.
Further information is available on the HICA website.