2015 has been a very difficult year for the Ghanaian economy and Africa at large. There has been major shortfalls in revenue inflows from the country’s main international commodities like oil, gold and cocoa. Falling commodity prices alone have has caused a 60 percent dip in projected revenue expected from oil in 2015, prompting discussions over the need for diversification of the economy more than ever.
But what other arrears apart from chief international commodities present good enough opportunities for the Ghanaian economy? Well, it may shock you, but travel and tourism stands out. A careful study done by Pulse Business on a research conducted by the Mail and Guardian Africa reveal that Travel has seen the biggest increase in growth in terms of contributions to the Ghanaian and other African economies in the past three years, and for 2015, the sector is set to finish on a record high once again.
The sector has defied the odds of international business forcasters like the IMF, who predicted that the Travel sector in Africa will perform abysmally due to fact that optional internal and external travel and tourist trips within and into the continent will reduce. But the exact opposite seem to be the case.
Further research by Pulse Business has revealed that whereas, true to the word, optional traditional tourism travels have reduced, the travel sector seems to be experiencing a technology tourism influx. This means that more and more interested stakeholders outside Africa are travelling to Africa to check out the continent’s technological innovations in primary sectors like Agriculture and Manufacturing.
This Pulse Business findings have been buttressed by the Global Trends Report 2015, the World Travel Market, one of the industry’s biggest international events, paints an optimistic picture (pdf) for the industry, saying that while its projection for the continent’s growth is 4.5%, down from 5% last year, arrivals are expected to nearly double.
The researchers highlight US President Barack Obama’s visit to Africa for the Global Entrepreneurship Summit to support the continent’s inventors and future business leaders as adding a tailwind to this trend. More than half of African countries have at least a tech-hub, according to the World Bank, while investments through this hub doubled last year to reach $27 million.
Among such attractions are technology parks such as Ghana’s Hope City, and Kenya’s developing Konza Technology City, the report says. “Investment in infrastructure, including transportation and education will be required for these hubs to be successful, as well as good regulatory environments fore foreign investors”. The report notes that all the new planned technology cities feature plans for both local and international hotel developments.
While a lot of tech tourism is largely concentrated on facilitating business trips and app development, but there is also a growing number of travel-start-ups. Because many are looking to grow into the region, air travel and lodging are among the obvious beneficiaries.
Started only in 2013, Nigeria’s largest online hotel booking site Hotels.ng has already listed over 7,000 hotels in the West African country, and plans to grow into Ghana and other countries in the region. “The growing technology sector in Africa is helping to expand the travel industry, the site’s CEO Mark Essien said. “Easier online discovery combined with growing consumer confidence in online bookings has made it extremely straightforward for us to cater directly to travellers’ needs.”