Africa: Tapping the Tourism Potential of West Africa’s Hidden Gem

Africa: Tapping the Tourism Potential of West Africa’s Hidden Gem

2022 has been a major yr that has marked the sturdy revival of Africa’s tourism trade which was virtually wolfed up within the throes of the Covid-19 pandemic. In accordance with the World Journey and Tourism Council newest Financial Influence Report (EIR), the African Journey and Tourism sector’s GDP is estimated to develop at a mean price of 6.8 p.c yearly between 2022 and 2032, creating 14 million new jobs. Moreover, the sector’s contribution to GDP is anticipated to develop 20.5 p.c to $144B by the tip of 2022, amounting to five.1 p.c of the full financial GDP.

Furthermore, employment within the sector is about to develop by 3.1 p.c this yr, to succeed in practically 22 million jobs. The continent boasts of a thriving tourism trade, which has steered financial improvement, birthing sturdy vacationer economies that get pleasure from an inflow of holiday makers. Nevertheless, as a lot as most nations have managed to harness these alternatives, others are lagging behind – pertinently, the Least Developed Nations (LDCs) within the continent.

In accordance with the UN, LDCs are an inventory of creating nations which exhibit the bottom indicators of socio-economic improvement, with the bottom human improvement index scores of all nations on this planet. Africa is dwelling to 33 nations categorized below this class, with many striving to graduate to a better rating.

Guinea Bissau, a small island nation with a shoreline within the Atlantic Ocean, wedged between Senegal within the north and Guinea to the south east is one such nation which concurrently ranks among the many poorest nations on this planet. This West-African nation is among the smallest and least visited within the continent. Bissau is the capital metropolis but it surely was included within the nation’s identify, with a purpose to distinguish it from different nations with the shared identify ‘Guinea’ which embody: Guinea and Equatorial Guinea in Africa and Papua New Guinea in Oceania.

Albeit the nation having gained independence from the Portuguese in 1974, progress has been dogged down by political instability and unrest stunting the expansion of many sectors amongst them tourism. Since independence, the nation’s historical past has been riddled by a sequence of coup d’états, border conflicts, criminality, civil unrest and corruption. 4 profitable coups have been recorded, with one other 16 coups tried, plotted or alleged, in accordance with information by the World Financial institution.

Presently, below the incumbent President Umaro Sissoco Embaló, the nation has registered some semblance of political stability, along with his authorities working to construct the nation. Previous to his presidency, no elected chief has served a full time period since independence till 2014 with the election of Jose Mario Vaz, who he succeeded in 2019.

Harnessing Guinea Bissau’s Untapped Tourism Sector

Regardless of being within the LDC class, Guinea Bissau is popularly often called the ‘hidden gem of West Africa’ and with good motive on condition that it’s dwelling to the most important group of islands in Africa, the idyllic ‘Bijagos Archipelago. Guinea Bissau is among the many Small Island Creating States (SIDS), with a wealthy, various marine and terrestrial ecosystem whose waters are thought of one of many wealthiest biodiversity areas of West Africa. The nation has the potential to change into essentially the most in-demand rising locations in Africa at present.

The Bijagos Islands cowl 2,500 sq. km of ocean and are the jewel in Guinea Bissau’s crown, along with its pristine seashores. The archipelago is made up of 88 islands, and has been designated as a UN World Heritage Biosphere Reserve. The Bijagos Islands are dwelling to plentiful and untroubled natural world, and a one-of-a-kind savannah of thick palm groves and sprawling mangrove forests. Its waters are dwelling to manatees, large turtles, sharks, dolphins and even uncommon saltwater hippos, along with 155 species of fish, attracting adventurous sport fishermen. Of the world’s eight species of tortoise, the World Heritage Middle states that 5 are discovered within the Bijagos. Moreover, the archipelago additionally boasts of a various birdlife, 96 species of each native and migratory birds. The nation’s extraordinary seashores provide the most effective sports-fishing for visiting vacationers.

The nation has immense indigenous cultural reserves. For historical past fanatics, colonial legacy nonetheless lingers, from the colonial remnants of the ‘ghost city’ of Bolama to the fist-shaped sculpture known as the ‘Hand of Timba,’ a monument within the Port of Bissau, which commemorates a crucial occasion within the historical past of the nation’s battle for independence the place colonial police opened fireplace on a big crowd of dockworkers killing 50 and injuring a whole lot. The clenched hand represents a swindler who doesn’t intend to pay his money owed simply because the Portuguese colonizers did, by refusing to pay dockworkers truthful wages. The third of August is a nationwide vacation within the nation, which marks the anniversary of the Pidjiguiti Bloodbath.

How Can Tourism Growth Influence Guinea Bissau?

Tourism is among the key drivers of financial progress of most African nations and has proved instrumental in assuaging poverty ranges in these nations. Guinea Bissau can comply with the identical trajectory, by leveraging on and tapping into the potential of its vacationer points of interest. Tourism improvement in Guinea Bissau is certain to have profound results bolstering the financial system of the nation, which ranks among the many poorest on this planet. Capitalizing on its pure endowments will vastly enhance its GDP, which in accordance with Buying and selling Economics international macro econometric fashions, is anticipated to succeed in $1.50B by the tip of 2022.

Though boosting tourism shouldn’t be among the many six pillars of the nation’s financial plan and 2025 imaginative and prescient dubbed ‘Terra Ranka’ tourism is a viable resolution to lifting hundreds of its residents out of abject poverty. Tourism has the facility to extend era of overseas change earnings and income producing alternatives, present sustainable employment, foster entrepreneurship, and enhance the standard of life for its residents.

In Guinea Bissau, greater than 63 p.c of the inhabitants is below the age of 25 and in accordance with the CIA World Truth ebook, the median age of the nation’s inhabitants is eighteen years. With such a youthful inhabitants which is basically unemployed, tourism may remedy this problem each in formal and casual sectors. By the identical token, this may open up different key underdeveloped sectors of the financial system and seal gaps within the nation’s transport and infrastructure, electrical energy and web connectivity, safety, well being, monetary providers, water and sanitation, schooling and the service trade.

Tourism, fisheries and maritime transport current immense alternatives to the nation, and are recognized as key to financial diversification and constructing resilience within the nation. In gentle of this, the UNDP has been aiding the federal government to faucet into the nation’s huge blue financial system potential. Guinea Bissau must assess its tourism improvement potential, and mobilize investments into the profitable sector accordingly. Tourism’s fundamental comparative benefit over different sectors is the character of its ripple impact throughout the financial system, comparable to in agricultural manufacturing to provide to inns and eating places and monetary providers, amongst many others.

With help from the UNDP, the Inexperienced Local weather Fund just lately authorized $2M financing in the direction of the institution of a Nationwide Adaptation Planning Course of in Guinea Bissau, which was authorized in June 2022 and will probably be applied over the course of three years. The venture’s goal is to strengthen the nation’s adaptive capability by creating an enabling setting that integrates local weather change adaptation into the nationwide planning course of with concentrate on the tourism and agriculture sectors. The tourism sector was chosen as an space of focus for the venture as a result of it has vital progress potential. Income earned from tourism could be reinvested into the nation to develop higher infrastructure, schooling and funding conservation efforts; this is not going to solely develop the trade but in addition create a constructive sustainable cycle within the nation. In accordance with the World Financial institution, which has been aiding the nation with biodiversity conservation and the promotion of sustainable improvement, eco-tourism has already taken root within the Bijagos, for the posterity of its pure treasures for future generations.

The UN continues to emphasize the necessity for higher recognition of tourism as a key service export, with a purpose to entice technical help and investments to the sector in LDCs.

Trying to the long run… .

Nevertheless, Guinea Bissau must take care of peace, governance and safety and thwart rebels and militias which have largely contributed to the dilapidated state of the nation. For vacationers to go to any nation, it goes with out saying that it’s crucial to determine their safety and create a conducive setting. Stability in Guinea Bissau will see buyers and worldwide donors return, inject investments and revive the financial system. The West African nation must also work to develop correct infrastructure to facilitate the seamless motion of vacationers across the nation. Into the cut price, electrical energy and web connectivity are crucial components that vacationers contemplate, and due to this fact ought to be a precedence for the federal government as properly.

To instill investor confidence and make itself a goal for tourism funding, Guinea Bissau additionally wants to stay agency towards drug-trafficking because the nation has come to be known as a ‘narco-state’ as a consequence of drug trafficking by means of its ports. The nation has been focused by drug cartels who’ve up to now turned it right into a transit hub for the cocaine commerce out of Latin America and into Europe with authorities officers typically being bribed by traffickers to disregard the unlawful commerce.

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