Afrinection Insights: North Africa's ultimate tourism hotspots

North Africa is a collection of Mediterranean countries in the northern part of Africa. It officially comprises seven countries: Algeria, Egypt, Libya, Morocco, Sudan, Tunisia and Western Sahara. Together, these nations generate over 30% of Africa’s total Gross Domestic Product (GDP), which is not insignificant. Despite some local socio-political problems, tourism remains a key driver of North Africa’s economy. Egypt, Tunisia and Morocco top the list, writes Afrinection Ambassador Michael Alimo. Besides a steady stream of income, the sector employs between 500,000 and 1.1 million people in each country.

Tourism is one of the fastest-growing and most interconnected sectors in the global economy, with a vast potential to boost a country’s GDP, investment climate, and employment situation. Like most other parts of the world, Africa depends on tourism. The 2016 report of African Tourism Monitor by the African Development Bank (AfDB) shows that the continent welcomed 1.186 billion international arrivals in 2015, 4.6% more than the previous year.

North Africa’s tourism arena is dominated by Egypt, Morocco and Tunisia.

EGYPT

Egypt, home of the ancient Pharaohs, is a dazzling destination for temples and tombs. The country ‘s tourism image is not all about history. From dessert trips and scuba diving to Nile cruises: the country has something for everyone. Besides this, Egypt accommodates beach lovers, city slickers (Cairo, the country’s biggest tourism hub), archaeology fans (Luxor), and those in search of the slow pace countryside (Siwa Oasis and Aswan).

What do the figures tell us? Egypt’s tourism sector serves roughly 14.7 million visitors, generates USD 12.5 billion dollars, contributes more than 11% of the country’s GDP and employs 12% of the workforce. However, in the first quarter of 2016, the number of foreign tourists fell by 40 percent, due to political and social instability as well as terror attacks.

MOROCCO

Morocco has stunning scenery featuring the Atlas Mountains, coastal villages and colourful towns. The country embraces all tourists and has something to offer everyone. Hotspots include its coastal areas, culture and history. Morocco’s political stability has been a driving force for the growth of its tourism industry: In 2016, it attracted more than 10.3 million international tourists with a possible GDP OF 20% and is the most visited North African country. Rabat is the top tourism hub in Morocco.

TUNISIA

Despite a turbulent recent past and militant attacks on holidaymakers, Tunisia’s tourism sector is recovering. The number of foreign arrivals in 2017 so far is up by 24%. Data suggests that 5.55 million tourists visited the country between January 1 and October 10, compared with 4.49 million in the same period last year. Tourism is set to account for about 8% of Tunisia’s GDP and is one of the country’s key employers.

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