African tourist arrivals experienced a 7% increase

With 67 million International tourist arrivals in 2018, Africa experienced a 7% increase compared to 2017. The growth was driven by good results for Tunisia, Morocco and Kenya.

While Africa only represents 5% of market share in terms of arrivals, it is one of the continents with the strongest growth dynamics. Last year, the total number of arrivals jumped by 7% to 67 million. On the other hand, revenues grew at a more moderate pace, at +1% or nearly €35bn.

North Africa recorded the best growth rate with arrivals up 10%. The three major destinations in Northern Africa registered very positive results. Tunisia was leading with total arrivals up by 17.7% and passed again the 8-million tourists’ mark. Morocco welcomed 8.3% more tourists last year, becoming the busiest destination in Northern Africa with over 12.3 million travellers. And Algeria performed pretty well with arrivals growing up by 8.4% to reach 2.6 million tourists.

Growth in sub-Saharan Africa reached 6% with the best performing country being… Uganda. Tourist arrivals to that country jumped by 32% to reach 1.85 million. South Africa enjoyed a moderate growth of 1.8% but remains the only Sub-Saharan country to welcome over 10 million tourists per year. With a growth of 9.2% last year, Cote d’Ivoire is close to reaching the two-million international tourists’ mark, a number that it will probably pass in 2019.

Cote d’Ivoire receive already more international visitors than more established destinations such as Kenya (1.47 million tourist arrivals, up 6.1% over 2017) or Mauritius (1.4 million, up 4.3%). Good performance was also recorded for Zimbabwe which last year received 2.57 million travellers, up by 5.9%.

UAE leading in the Middle East

International arrivals to the Middle East reached 60 million in 2018, an increase of 4% over the previous year, while revenues increased by 3% to 66.7 billion euros.

Best performers in the region, Egypt saw its arrivals jumping by 36.8% reaching over 11.3 million tourists. The UAE and Saudi Arabia stood side by side last year. Both countries received the highest number of visitors, at respectively 15.9 and 15.3 million. But both countries also recorded mediocre growth results in 2018, with arrivals progressing only by 0.8% for the UAE while declining by over 5% for Saudi Arabia. For Qatar, blocus of the country by its neighbours translated into a decline of 19.4% of its tourist arrivals last year. Qatar did manage to compensate for the losses of its nearby markets in the third quarter thanks to an increase in the number of visitors from Russia, China and India. Oman was probably dragged down by the mediocre performance of neighbouring UAE. Total tourist arrivals sunk by 0.6%.

The best performer in the Middle East was Iran. Tourist arrivals last year grew by almost 50% to 7.3 million international tourists. However, 2019 will be more challenging as economic sanctions are increasingly isolating the country.

In the Levant, Jordan also had an excellent year, with an 8% increase in the number of arrivals, while Lebanon experienced a growth of 5.8% coming close to the two-million tourists’ mark.