Tourism Development in Africa: Focus on Poverty Alleviation
Roselyne N. Okech, Tourism Studies Memorial University of Newfoundland Sir Wilfred Grenfell Canada, Rnokech@yahoo.com
Abstract Tourism is one of the fastest growing sectors of the global economy and developing countries are attempting to cash in on this expanding industry in an attempt to boost foreign investment and financial reserves. Although the value of tourism has long been recognized, international attention to the role of tourism development especially in Africa is still lacking. The argument for tourism as a development strategy is primarily economic although ideals such as bringing increased understanding among peoples and cultures are invoked. Faced with civil wars, poverty, sanitation and other myriad of problems, Africa continuously faces the challenge of tourism marketing for various destinations against other competing regions such as Europe. This paper examines the contribution of tourism in African Development with an emphasis on poverty reduction. The analysis focuses on the performance indicators in the economic factors, employment and government revenue. Keywords: Africa, Development, Economy, Poverty, Tourism Introduction With its huge diversity, its rich supply of natural resources, and its wealth of wildlife and cultural heritage, Africa is the one of the main destination for international tourism in the world. The majority of the international flows come from USA, Britain, and German which is economically significant for the continent. By 2007, some 44 million international arrivals were made to, or within, Africa (UNTWO, 2008). This phenomenal growth has been accompanied by the increasingly important impact of tourism on the economic, social and cultural as well as environmental aspects of life in individual African countries. Faced with civil wars, poverty, sanitation and a myriad of other problems, Africa continuously faces the challenge of tourism marketing for various destinations against competing regions such as Europe. Sub-Saharan Africa appears to have three development options: expanding and increasing the range of its primary exports from agriculture and mining; focusing on industrialisation as a strategy for achieving quick and sustained economic growth; and promoting tourism because of the existence of an overseas demand for it (Dieke, 2001a; Sindiga, 1999). The first two options have been tried out in the past without encouraging results for the majority of the people of Africa. In the contemporary period, Africa suffers from endemic economic stagnation leading to chronic poverty. So serious is the problem that the continent has a burden of international debts, fiscal deficits, rising inflation levels and declining economic growth. In the wake of Africa’s development crisis, some scholars have suggested that tourism could become a catalyst or basis for broad-based development thereby solving Africa’s development challenge (Dieke, 1994; 2000).
The Journal of Tourism and Peace Research, 1(1), 2010 Roselyne N. Okech, Tourism Development in Africa: Focus on Poverty Alleviation
Others have given tourism only qualified support and noted the negative characteristics of mass tourism (Lea, 1993; Shaw, & Williams, 1994). A growing literature argues for tourism as a means of export diversification aimed at reducing dependence on unstable exports (Sinclair, & Tsegaye, 1990 but a few scholars think that tourism can be beneficial to only a few countries with the majority having little opportunity to create a competitive and viable large-scale tourism industry. Many countries, however, acknowledge the crucial role of tourism in development (Tosun, & Jenkins, 1996). In Namibia, for example, tourism generates about 6% of the gross domestic product which is the same share as agriculture (Namibia, n.d)...