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Sub-Saharan Africa Leads In 2024 Travel And Tourism Growth

THE World Economic Forum (WEF) has released its latest Travel and Tourism Development Index (TTDI) 2024, revealing that sub-Saharan Africa has demonstrated the most substantial enhancement in performance since 2019. The index, published in collaboration with the University of Surrey, assesses 119 economies on factors and policies that enable the sustainable and resilient development of the travel and tourism sector, which in turn contributes to economic growth.

‘Sub-Saharan Africa has shown the most substantial enhancement in TTDI performance since 2019,’ the report states. ‘Sixteen out of the 19 regional economies covered by the index increased their TTDI scores.’ Nigeria, for instance, improved marginally from 113th to 112th in the rankings, marking a positive change of +4.20 percent since 2019.


The TTDI 2024 indicates that global tourism has nearly returned to pre-pandemic levels, contributing $9.9 trillion to the global GDP in 2023. However, it emphasises that challenges remain, reflecting on ‘the T&T sector’s recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic and the ongoing and future challenges affecting the enabling conditions for its growth.’

WEF underscores the TTDI’s role in facilitating dialogue among stakeholders, guiding policy formulation, operational practices, and investment strategies. ‘The TTDI is designed to provide context and facilitate multi-stakeholder dialogue, enabling stakeholders to grasp emerging trends and risks in global T&T,’ the report notes.

Despite its improvements, the report highlights that sub-Saharan Africa still faces considerable challenges. ‘Regional policymakers and T&T stakeholders need to continue the recent progress in creating more supportive business environments, improving health and hygiene conditions, fostering higher-quality human resources and labour markets, and advancing ICT infrastructure.’

Investment and policies supporting inclusive working conditions, workers’ rights, and education are essential to making the region’s growing labour force more competitive and resilient. Addressing widespread health, safety, and security challenges is also crucial to attracting foreign visitors and investment.

The report mentions several policy initiatives aimed at boosting cross-border travel and trade, such as the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) and the Free Movement of Persons Protocol. However, it notes that implementation of policies promoting international openness has lagged, particularly in the aviation sector.

‘Encouraging environmental sustainability, developing tourist service infrastructure, and promoting cultural resources need to be prioritised in the coming years,’ the report adds.

South Africa ranks highest in the region at 55th place, boasting the largest T&T economy. Mauritius (57th) and Ghana (106th) are the top performers in Eastern and Western Africa, respectively, with Mauritius being the most T&T dependent economy in the region for 2022. Côte d’Ivoire showed the greatest improvement, moving from 116th to 114th with a +6.4 percent increase in its TTDI score.

While sub-Saharan Africa has made notable strides in improving its tourism sector, ongoing efforts and innovative policies are needed to overcome existing challenges and fully harness the sector’s transformative power, the report says.

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