This UN report makes available a trove of interesting data on the recent development of tourism in Africa. The number of international tourists arriving on the continent increased from 24 million between 1995 and 1998 to 56 million between 2011 and 2014; the revenue they generated in the respective periods rose from $14 billon to around $47 billion. Tourism now accounts for 8.5 percent of the continent’s GDP. Such numbers are still relatively small, and the benefits of tourism are distributed unevenly: the poorer countries of central and western Africa receive far fewer visitors than the middle-income countries of northern and southern Africa. But the report makes a strong case for the potential of tourism, a relatively labor-intensive industry that can create significant employment possibilities, including for skilled workers. In addition, the report suggests that growth in tourism is likely to boost other sectors of African economies, in part by spurring investment in human capital and in physical and communications infrastructure.
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