INSECURITY: Crippling Africa’s Huge Tourism Market
As the continents of the world continue to get connected with the advancement in technology, there is an equally increasing desire to explore unknown areas. Many want to travel to visit breathtaking sites, waterfalls, feel snow, see relics and so on. This has made tourism business grow.
Tourism Society of England in 1976 defined tourism as “The temporary, short movement of people to destinations outside the places where they normally live and work and their activities during the stay at each destination. It includes movements for all purposes.”
In Africa, tourism has been as old as the destinations with many hotels hosting huge guests for weddings, parks hosting birthday parties or funfairs, and tour guides showing guests around the natural endowments of the town.
According to World Tourism Organization, Tourism can be regarded beyond holiday activity, travelling and staying outside their homes for a day.
This non-oil sector has contributed greatly to the growth of several countries in Africa such as Tanzania, Kenya, South Africa, Rwanda and others with job creation boosted for the locals.
Reports indicate that Tourism creates opportunities for airline employees, hotel workers, photographers, tour and travel guides, insurance workers, etc.
It also benefits the hospitality industries such as transportation, hotels, parks, shopping malls etc.
However, Tourism in Africa has suffered huge setbacks due to prevalence of violence and insecurity. This has made destinations deserted and left to rot. This has dealt a great blow on the growth rate.
In a report by ippmedia.com, International Tourists arrivals exceeded 1 billion tourists globally for the first time in 2012.
From the statistics the fortunes of the tourism sector would leave one with little doubt about how beneficial the sector can be without the growing cases of insecurity.
In Nigeria for example, the north-eastern part of the country has suffered a decline in tourist visits to its destinations. The Yankari Game Reserve in Bauchi State as an example is one tourism hotspot that is at the point of decay with apathy, fear of attacks by insurgents and low patronage.
Haruna Ismail is a Kaduna based Medical Doctor who spends most of his leisure at Yankari. He laments the state of the park.
“I remember as a little boy over four decades ago coming to this park with my family. We had it tough with crowd as tourists came from all over the world to see the wild games. Now its in a shadow of it’s old self.
People from parts of Nigeria who understand how Boko Haram attacks randomly across the states are afraid.”
This corroborates Ayuba Makama’s account of how the visits to the Kajuru Castle threatened by the incessant attacks in the Southern Part of Kaduna.
“I am from Kajuru in Kaduna State and a victim of the recent communal clashes in the town. Kajuru castle was at the point of becoming an exposure of the town to development but was cut short with the situation we faced.We hope the peace we are experiencing now will last so that we can get more and more visitors to the town”.
Many are of the view that other Tourism destinations like the Kamuku National Park in Birnin Gwari, Kaduna State, Shere Hills in Jos have suffered similar fates.
Away from Nigeria is an equally negative impact of insecurity especially with the xenophobic attacks recently.
The negative effect of the killings in South Africa has threatened the entry of visitors into South Africa. Many angry protesters against the killings had openly called for boycotts of South African businesses especially from countries affected by the killings. This was detrimental to it’s huge revenue from tourism and travels.
In their response, The United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) called on those responsible for acts of violence and violations of human rights to be brought to account.
“If unchecked, such xenophobic attacks could lead to further damage and destruction” ,the agency spokesperson Charlie Yaxley warned while speaking with pressmen recently in Geneva.
This situation many describe as worrisome and detrimental to free and safe movements across borders.
In a publication made by www.brookings.edu Kristin McKie of St. Lawrence University said.
“Much like Nigeria, Somalia also had to deal with Islamist militancy in addition to drought and famine. During the 2011 to 2012 famine, Al-Shabab the primary militant group in the country successfully kept humanitarian organizations away but wasn’t able to fill the gap”.
Another important country in Africa’s Tourism map is Tunisia. This country located in East Africa has been a hub for tourists with it’s interesting relics.
However, the country has suffered greatly from terrorist attacks which have made tourism development drop drastically though trying to recover.
According to data from Tunisian National Tourism Office, the country’s fortunes from Tourism dropped from a record high of more than 3.6 million Tunisian dinars in 2014 to 2.4 million dinars in 2015.
This worrisome statistics came from terrorist attacks by the Islamic State in which about 21 people were reportedly killed in the Bardo Museum in Tunis and 31 tourists killed on a beach in Sousse three months later. The situation was responsible for a drop in tourists numbers by over 25%.
The statistics are worrisome across countries in Africa but many believe that dialogue and conscious policies by affected governments would revive the dwindling fortune of Africa’s Tourism.
With efforts such as AKWAABA African Travel Market ,Calabar Carnival and other laudable projects which unite countries in the world and unity as the unifying language, the best is yet to come but until then the ripe fields of global Tourism and domestic revenue is infested with insecurity- a cankerworm.
By Francis Ogwo