Africa: The tourism industry as a central development partner

The African continent faces major challenges as a result of population growth. By 2050 the number of people living there will have doubled to more than 2.5 billion. Despite positive economic developments there is a deficit of 20 million jobs for young people every year – in the cities and in the countryside. Poverty and migration are the consequences. In many regions tourism can offer greater prosperity and a better outlook to the locals.

Strategic interest

It is in the interest of Europe and Germany for Africa to prosper as a partner in a globalised world, as a market of the future and as a continent that will soon have the largest potential labour force. In addition to traditional development aid, the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development is focusing on two new objectives in its “Marshall Plan with Africa”: to encourage African states to assume greater responsibility and to mobilise private-sector investments.

Disproportionate growth in tourism

Africa is attracting an increasing number of tourists. Since the year 2000 the number of people holidaying in Africa has more than doubled to 67 million – which is far higher than the global growth rate.

Investment in entrepreneurship

It’s not the governments that will create the much-needed long-term employment opportunities, but the private sector. So fewer subsidies and more investments are necessary, and European enterprises are called upon to get involved. The Marshall Plan doesn’t explicitly mention the tourism industry, although it is a key factor for stable growth and already provides 9 million direct jobs for the young population. If you include the knock-on effects in other sectors such as construction, agriculture and telecommunications, tourism is actually responsible for some 23 million jobs providing financial security. In 2017 there was 9 percent growth in tourism on the African continent, making it the fastest-growing tourism region in the world. Every year, 63 million holidaymakers spend around USD 37 billion in Africa. That’s not far short of the international community’s total public expenditure on aid for Africa.

TUI Group is a strong partner in the process:

  • Jobs. Tourists book their holidays in Africa with the world’s leading travel group. TUI Airlines operates 200 weekly flights carrying 1.6 million guests to Africa every year. One aircraft full of holidaymakers flying twice a day to Hurghada creates around 9,000 jobs in Egypt. The TUI Group also operates more than 70 hotels in Africa. And TUI is still making investments there. For example, a new ROBINSON Club will be opening in Cape Verde in autumn 2019. The resort has the same employment effect as a medium-sized enterprise, providing up to 250 people and their families with a means of sustenance.
  • Training. TUI is committed to promoting vocational training at its destinations because education is crucial to achieving sustained prosperity. The travel company teamed up with the German development agency GIZ and the Moroccan Education Ministry to introduce a model combing academic and vocational training to North Africa and it established the ROBINSON Hotel School in Agadir. Since 2008 many hundreds of people have completed the Hotel School’s programmes, learning the essential skills for a career in the hotel industry. Today some of them work at the neighbouring ROBINSON Club Agadir in Morocco, and others in Algeria or on the Ivory Coast. TUI’s hotels and local partners provide genuine career opportunities throughout Africa.
  • Equality of opportunity. In many places girls and women are still not permitted to participate in society – even though those societies would benefit from their skills and ingenuity. This is another focus of the Marshall Plan. The TUI Care Foundation funds projects, in Namibia and Zanzibar for example, that specifically provide training and education to women.
  • Sustainability. The TUI Group’s 2020 Sustainability Strategy sets some ambitious targets. Its main objectives are to reduce the environmental footprint of tourism and preserve cultures. Africa has an incredibly diverse cultural heritage and, to ensure that it remains intact, TUI is working very closely with the local authorities. On the Cape Verde islands, for example, the tourism industry and the local government are developing solutions to reduce the waste, water consumption and energy consumption associated with tourism. The TUI Care Foundation also supports environmental education projects in many places.

Using tourism to kick-start prosperity

Few German governments have focused so intensively on Africa as the present one. It’s important to take advantage of this political momentum. As a key industry that is driving growth and creating more jobs, the tourism sector is an important partner on the African continent.

Tax burden is curbing development

The taxes imposed by the German revenue authorities are incomprehensible in light of the important contribution that tourism makes to prosperity.

Aviation tax. On every flight to Egypt the German government imposes a EUR 23 levy on holidaymakers and airlines. That amounts to almost EUR 1.2 billion a year.

The situation in neighbouring countries is different. Austria halved the rate of aviation tax in 2017 as a result of distortion of competition and the Netherlands has abolished aviation tax entirely. As a result of having to pay taxes here in Germany, tourists are spending less money at the destinations.