Tourism is one of the fastest growing economic sectors across Africa, significantly contributing to employment and biodiversity conservation, and providing a tool to achieve inclusive economic growth and improved livelihoods for millions. In 2019, tourism contributed 7% of Africa’s GDP and employed 21 million Africans, amounting to around 1 in 14 jobs across the continent.
Though international visitor arrivals in Africa were on an upward trend before the pandemic, the continent’s global share of international tourism was under 6%, prompting calls to increase Africa’s tourism competitiveness. This has been given far greater urgency following the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on global tourism, alongside the ongoing threat posed by climate change which has impacted on both domestic and international tourism in Africa by threatening both wildlife conservation and livelihoods.
Research in major African nations like Kenya, Ghana and South Africa has shown the majority of the tourism workforce are young people. Yet only 2 in 5 young people of working age are engaged in any form of employment in Africa, with young women being the most affected.
The IAU programme will seek to bolster tourism entrepreneurship via innovation hubs and mentorship among other things, driving economic growth and sustainable development. There will be a specific focus on graduates, many of whom are either unemployed, under employed or lack support or capacity to grow their own businesses.
Professor Marina Novelli, Professor of Tourism and International Development, said: “We are proud to have been selected as one of 24 projects to be supported by the British Council IAU programme. Our focus will be on expanding decent employment opportunities and fostering sustainable tourism entrepreneurship for young tourism graduates through climate friendly and digitally oriented innovations in Kenya, Ghana and South Africa, with potential ripple effects in other Sub-Saharan African destinations. This project aims at achieving our shared vision for a more sustainable and inclusive tourism sector in Africa.”