Tourism to fully recover in 2024

Minister for Tourism Dr. Ibrahim Mohammed Awal

The year 2021 saw 415 million tourists travel 15 million more than the 400 million travelers in 2020.

However, international tourist arrivals who spend the night were still 72% below the pre-pandemic year of 2019, according to preliminary estimates by UNWTO. This follows on from 2020, the worst year on record for tourism, when international arrivals decreased by 73%.

Tourism in Africa experienced a 12 percent increase in arrivals in 2021 compared to 2020.
According to united nation world tourism organization, Africa regained its appeal to both local and international travelers in 2021. Many opted to travel to various destinations across the continent including Ghana, Kenya, south Africa, Zanzibar, Seychelles, Morocco, Algeria and Egypt.

The world tourism organization attributes the sizeable recovery to lifting of covid restrictions across the world such as reopening of borders and easing of social restrictions. Further massive and widespread roll out of the vaccine in the West gave tourists the okay to travel while progress of vaccination in Africa gave tourists confidence to travel to their preferred destinations.


As of May 2021, the number of tourists that arrived in Africa from overseas added up to around 1.04 million, which was significantly higher than the 533,000 international tourists who arrived in the continent in May 2020. In 2020, the region recorded its highest monthly count of international tourists in January, at over 5.3 million. This was slightly higher than the number registered in at the same period in 2019.

Ghana had projected to receive 600,000 tourists in the month of December. However, with the surge of omicron towards the festive season the government introduced strict measures such as mandatory vaccination and quarantine upon arrival for the unvaccinated.
These new guidelines slowed down tourism activity with experts lowering the projection to only 200,000 tourists.

While recovery is being experienced across the continent, WTO says the 2021 numbers are still 74 percent below 2019. This is due to the fluctuations with the virus with new variants coming up every few months, unending waves and new set of restrictions every so often. The virus which is wreaking havoc in Europe and Americas indirectly affects tourism in Africa as many international tourists come from these regions.

Despite the pandemic creating a cash crunch in the market due to slow down of global economies and loss of jobs, on the flip side, tourism spending has risen in 2021. WTO notes the Average receipts per arrival are estimated to reach US$1,500 in 2021, up from US$1,300 in 2020. This is due to large pent-up savings and longer lengths of stay, as well as higher transport and accommodation prices.

The economic contribution of tourism in 2021 (measured in tourism direct gross domestic product) is estimated at US$1.9 trillion, above the US$1.6 trillion in 2020, but still well below the pre-pandemic value of US$ 3.5 trillion. Export revenues from international tourism could exceed US$700 billion in 2021, a small improvement over 2020 due to higher spending per trip, but less than half the US$1.7 trillion recorded in 2019.

Moving into 2022, According to the latest UNWTO Panel of Experts, 61 percent of tourism professionals see better prospects for the industry this year. 58% expect a rebound in 2022, mostly during the third quarter, and 42% point to a potential rebound only in 2023. 64 percent of experts now expect international arrivals to return to 2019 levels only in 2024 or later, up from 45% in the September survey.

In Africa, tourism is expected to experience a 17 percent increase in arrivals in 2022. Come 2023, the percentage is expected to nearly double to 33 percent. As experts have predicted, 2024 the number is expected to hit 50 percent.


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