Whereas tourism is recognized as the main driver in terms of socio-economic development and growth in Africa, as witnessed in the last African Tourism Monitor, the 2015 edition of the annual report in regards to competitiveness in travel and tourism, published in early May by the World Economic Forum (WEF), highlights that West Africa is lagging behind, when it comes to travel.
The ten West African countries evaluated in the report appears in the bottom half of the ranking. Cabo Verde, the top-ranked country from the region, ranks 86th out of 141. Guinea scored the lowest score at 140th, securing the penultimate position in the overall ranking. The eight remaining West African countries are in the bottom quarter, among the least competitive countries regarding tourism, worldwide.
As the relevance of the index itself is a question of dispute, this ranking shows at least two realities in the region. First, West Africa still has low attractiveness as a destination for international tourism. Besides, the unique case of Cabo Verde, which has made tourism a priority, the region has few “tourist destinations.”
Till date, only Ghana and Senegal have passed the major threshold of one million international tourists. (Nigeria, which had passed the threshold in 2008, has fallen below since 2011.) In 2012, the region as a whole greeted over 4.5 million tourists, which churned out US $3.2 billion revenue.
These figures show 14% of international arrivals and 13% of tourism revenues recorded in Sub-Saharan Africa this year, and 8% and 6% respectively of the African total (North Africa included).