Tourism has flourished in Africa over the last few years, making it an attractive continent for investors, developers and major international hospitality brands. The top three countries for travel and tourism in Africa according to the 2019 WEF Competitiveness Index are Mauritius, South Africa and Seychelles, but investment and demand are rising across this diverse continent.
Top Africa Hospitality Facts
- Drives nearly 10% of the economy – Africa’s travel and tourism remains one of the key growth drivers of the continent’s economy, contributing 8.5% (or $194.2bn) of the GDP in 2018; from 8.1% and 7.8% in 2017 and 2016 respectively.
- Spiking global interest and visits – In 2018, the continent received 67 million international tourist arrivals (a +7% increase), as compared to 63 million in 2017 and 58 million in 2016. Africa received only a 5% share of international arrivals in 2017.
- A key employment sector – The travel and tourism sector, directly and indirectly, provided employment for about 24.3 million people in 2018, accounting for approximately (6.7%) of total employment.
- Offers life-changing holidays – Leisure remains an important component of Africa’s tourism industry, taking up a majority of 71% of the tourist expenditure in 2018.
- Flourishing local and inter-Africa travel – In terms of international versus local spending, international visitors spent a total of USD 58.5 Billion in 2018 (9.6% of total exports) – the ratio that year was 44% international expenditure compared to 56% domestic expenditure.
An Exciting Future Ahead
- Growth in Leisure tourism – as travel advisories for many countries in Africa were lifted; international tourism is increasing by 5% annually thanks to the many direct flights offered from Europe, America and Asia.
- Demand for health and wellness – from leisure tourists is increasing significantly, including health retreats, spa offerings or experiencing untouched nature.
- Sports tourism increasing – due to the active promotion of sports experiences, which means hotels will need to adapt to meet the needs of this trend, such as spa offerings for athletes, special dietary requirements and high-quality massage treatments.
- Opportunity for affordable luxury and lifestyle brands – for example, Accor has created Mantis Collection, a luxury lifestyle lodges brand that offers authentic experiences.
- Sustainability focus- is becoming more important for hotels and guests; companies are expected to incorporate waste management, energy efficiency and other green initiatives into their business strategy.
- Modern hotel technology – has increased in popularity; guests expect the ability to check in automatically, have in-room technology and be offered personalised services.
- Skilful marketing – The increase in costs attributed to becoming more sustainable has been countered by the transformation of business supply chains and more affordable marketing techniques, including the use of social media and influencers.
- Management and corporate expertise growing– Third-party management, franchise and creative management agreements are increasing in popularity, compared to lease contracts and old-school management agreements.
The Impact of the Pandemic on Africa’s Tourism Industry
The pandemic had a huge negative impact on Africa. In 2021, Africa’s tourism industry lost an estimated US $83 billion in GDP contribution (down by 49.2%) and lost up to 7.2 million industry jobs compared to 2019 levels. According to Nigel Vere Nicoll, President of the African Travel and Tourism Association (ATTA®), “British, Americans and Europeans can’t travel – this is going to decimate the African market. It is extremely serious, and we have to help find ways to work around it.” Therefore, it is crucial now for countries in Africa to promote domestic tourism, which will be the stepping stone for international tourism.
New Hotel Growth in Africa Creating an Explosion of New Career Opportunities
The predicted increase in tourism to Africa is prompting an influx of brands rapidly expanding their portfolios across the continent. Knight Frank’s Africa Hotels 2018 report predicts annual international tourist arrivals will double by 2030, reaching 134 million and boosting the economy by 60% to US$3.8tn in the same year. Hotel giants like Radisson Hotel Group, Hilton and Marriott have ramped up their development strategies to grow their presence in Africa, reinforcing the hotel sector’s potential for business growth across the continent.
The Top 5 countries currently leading hotel growth are:
- South Africa
Preparing for Hospitality Careers – Where do People Study Hospitality in Africa?
The most popular place to study hospitality is International Hotel School in Pretoria, South Africa. 93 per cent of the school’s graduates are employed after entering the job market and the school proudly offers a money-back guarantee to all students. Should you be unable to pass your first-year exams, your tuition fees will be refunded. Students also benefit from extensive work experience as part of their studies, with half of all programs featuring some time spent working in the hospitality sector. Degree courses on offer include Tourism Management, Hospitality Management, and Heritage and Cultural Tourism.
Other Universities that offer courses in hospitality include the University of Cape Town, University of Johannesburg and Vaal University of Technology, both located in South Africa.
Africa is an exciting frontier for hospitality where Otolo can offer expertise from mentors around the world to enhance the skills of people in Africa and encourage more growth in hospitality. Otolo currently has a partnership with Dream Hotels and Resorts in South Africa, where they will be doing mentoring across their 2500 people. The University of Johannesburg is also partnered with Otolo, and offers hospitality courses to its students. Otolo is seeking the opportunity to promote hospitality across Africa, expanding our hotel and university partnerships and supporting this industry to grow further and provide more long-term career opportunities in African countries.