The hospitality industry is a broad category of fields within service industry that includes lodging, event planning, transportation, cruise line, and additional fields within the tourism industry. The hospitality industry is a multi-billion-dollar industry that depends on the availability of leisure time and disposable income.
The hotel sector has had a great run over the past several years, but new supply, competition from accommodation-sharing sites (short-term rentals), and a flattening of growth in corporate travel have muted enthusiasm for this asset class.
The deputy minister of tourism for Zimbabwe, Anastacia Ndlovu, at the 12th edition of the African Travel & Tourism Conference, highlighted 6 major challenges that impede the growth of Africa’s hospitality, leisure and tourism sector.
Underdeveloped Tourism Infrastructure
Countries like Switzerland, Germany, and Austria lead the world in terms of their travel and tourism industry competitiveness. They are closely followed by Spain, United Kingdom, USA, France, Canada, Sweden, and Singapore. For Africa’s infrastructure to develop, there’s a need to protect our natural and cultural resources, fix our air transport system (90% of tourists travel by air), improve the quality of roads and ports, and fix electricity issues as it applies to each country.
Poor Intra-African Air Connectivity
There are very few flights connecting major cities in Africa. And not many of the very few are good enough, or at least meet international standards. The perception of Africa is a country and not a continent has to change. The entire air transport system within Africa needs to be overhauled to engender more airlines to fly within Africa. Tourists visit Africa every year runs into millions and this number can be greatly increased if more airlines can be injected to convey much more tourists to various destinations.
Absence of Strategically-Integrated Product Development and Marketing
There’s a need to develop tourism products that are marketable. This is indeed lacking in Africa. For instance, Uganda has been able to grow its tourism sector on one thing that a lot of tourists love to see: gorillas. The country has the largest mountain gorilla population in the world – 54% (over 400 of them). In addition, there are over 5,000 chimpanzees found in Uganda. The country is also home to the world’s largest number of monkeys, baboons, apes, rare colobus etc. Commendably, Uganda has packaged its tourism around gorilla sight-seeing, and a lot of tourists visit every year just to see these apes. Such tourism product/package is what many countries in Africa need to market to the world.
The effort of the African Union (AU) in developing a pan-African passport which allows all Africans to travel freely within Africa without a visa is highly commendable. Of course, the objective is to achieve what the European Union passport has made possible. However, more needs to be done. If we can cut out visa requirement as we have in some countries, it will engender the growth of tourism as more people will be entitled to free movement within the continent.
Poor Treasury Support to Tourism
In most African countries, it is sad that the tourism sector gets the lowest budget even in countries where tourism is their mainstay. This poses a huge threat to the survival and eventual sustainability of the sector. Government at all levels should invest adequate funds to boost its economic viability which has the potential to contribute up to 25% to each country’s GDP.
Our image as a continent has been marred with poverty, strife, hunger, war, starvation, diseases and so many. These things shape the way people see us and our countries. We need an urgent clinical repair of these bad representations. We have challenges as a country, no doubt – as do developed countries – but we are not our challenges.
Other challenges ravaging the sector borders around operating issues, marketing issues, technological issues and economic issues.
Whilst there has been rapid growth in the hospitality industry, the sector is still in its infancy, with greater potentials for advancement. However, there remain some major impediments to the growth of this industry.
To address these concerns and exploit the opportunities, Real Estate Unite; an annual flagship event that provides an important platform for all sectors of Africa’s property industry to network, is bringing together key players in Africa’s HTL sector to a special strategy session to discuss, learn and dialogue about ways to move the sector forward.
To register for Real Estate Unite 2017. CLICK HERE or visit: realestateunite.com