Exciting times ahead for Africa’s Business Tourism! Here’s what is contributing to the positive take-off:
Africa (05 October 2023) — Our Africa, known for its breathtaking landscapes, rich cultural heritage, and diverse wildlife has long been a sought-after destination for leisure travellers. However, in recent years, a growing trend has emerged and revealed itself as something to get excited about for our continent. Business tourism in Africa is growing and is making significant contributions to the continent’s overall tourism GDP.
In fact, tourism—both business and leisure—showed a surge of 78.2% in the first half of 2023 on arrivals to South Africa in comparison to the same period in 2022 with the latest reports showing that business spending represents a share of 43% of overall tourism contributions.
“This development reflects the increasing recognition of Africa’s potential as a hub for international conferences, conventions, and corporate events. This remarkable growth can be attributed to several factors that have combined to make Africa an increasingly attractive destination for business travellers,” says Devi Paulsen-Abbott, Chairperson of the Association of African Exhibition Organisers.
According to her, there are five key factors contributing to the rise of business tourism in Africa:
African countries have made substantial investments in infrastructure development. This includes modern airports, state-of-the-art convention centres, and top-notch hotels. These facilities have enhanced the continent’s capacity to host large-scale business events, conferences, and exhibitions; all necessary factors for business tourism.
Enhanced connectivity through expanded flight routes and airline networks has made it a lot easier for international business travellers to access destinations on our continent. Major airlines have also increased their services to African cities which means both convenience and easier accessibility.
The continent’s political stability in many regions has fostered an environment conducive to hosting international business events. This stability has increased confidence among organisers and attendees alike.
Africa’s emerging economies and growing middle class have attracted more investments from businesses in many cases. As a result, the continent has become an attractive location for global companies to expand their operations, leading to an influx of business travellers.
Africa’s diverse cultures and unique experiences are increasingly incorporated into events and conferences. This blend of business and cultural experiences adds not only to the overall experience for visitors but also to the widening of cultural knowledge.
Business Tourism Influences Leisure Tourism
Because of the above factors’ influence, leisure tourism is also positively impacted. As business travellers explore African destinations, they often extend their stays to explore the continent’s natural beauty and cultural heritage.
According to the World Travel and Tourism Council, the travel and tourism sector contributed 7.6% to global GDP last year alone—an increase of 22% from 2021 and only 23% below 2019 levels – showcasing the contribution of business tourism on the global GDP.
Business tourism has also led to job creation and economic empowerment in local communities which has a ripple effect on various sectors, including hospitality, transportation, and local businesses, thereby fostering sustainable economic development.
“Industry experts and stakeholders see this trend continuing in the coming years, with Africa poised to become a premier destination for international business events. Governments and tourism authorities across the continent are recognising the potential of business tourism and are actively working to attract more conferences and conventions,” adds Paulsen-Abbott.
Africa’s rising prominence in the world of business tourism signifies a positive era for the continent, one in which it plays a pivotal role in shaping the global business landscape while sharing its unique cultural and natural treasures with the world.