By Josephine Wawira
Over the years, globalization in Africa has tremendously grown from language development to innovation, investment and easy movement of people and goods facilitated by infrastructural development. In general, Africa’s linkages to the rest of the world have expanded extensively and the people’s way of life has in many ways consolidated with the global social standards. As a result, this massive globalization has increasingly spurred integration and interaction among governments, corporations, cultures and people; a factor that has affected both negatively and positively different sectors, among them the tourism industry.
According to UNWTO, international tourist arrivals grew by 7% in Africa and 13% rebound in Sub Saharan Africa between January and April 2016; with an even bigger influx expected into the continent in coming years. This means that people’s lives are being opened up to appreciate and embrace new ideas, cultures and values that unite and diversify the world. Besides, the growth of technology has facilitated easy access and spread of information across the continent.
With statistics by Infinite Potentials (a consulting firm that provides data to organizations) predicting that smartphone use in Sub Saharan Africa is poised to grow by over 700% to 525M users by 2020; it is expected that the penetration of smartphones into the market will continue to boost tourism in Africa. More companies are largely investing in mobile-centric solutions in order to meet their target customers at their (customer) convenience.
Sharing of pictures from a favorite destination via social media platforms is the order of the day, a marketing strategy that is now being used to sell tourism destinations to the rest of the world. Moreover, technology has also facilitated the growth of e-commerce, with the success of various online platforms that enhance tourism such as Online Travel Agents (OTAs); that enable travelers to access information about hotels and make their bookings online from anywhere around the world.
Africa is full of great investment potential which is made available to visiting foreigners. This is because globalization has eased ways of doing business, thus facilitating foreign investment and in turn the flow of foreign revenue. Furthermore, the opening up of borders using common tourist visas in such cases as East Africa, has boosted the growth of tourism as people can now easily visit one country or another. It is expected that full implementation of the Pan African Passport will improve openness within other African countries for Africans, further growing the industry.
However, there also exists some negative impacts of globalization on tourism. For instance, foreign cultures have continuously dominated and eroded the African way of life, as Africans learn and assimilate the foreign ways including dressing and language. All is however not lost as some communities have maintained and protected their indigenous cultures, a fact that is to be admired and emulated.
Globalization has also raised concerns in as far as global security is concerned. Ease of movement of people has encouraged criminals to move through porous borders from one country to another, thus increasing the spread of criminal activities in the entire continent. Terrorism acts on tourism destinations have become scarecrows that impede tourists from visiting those places. Besides, peace and stability is key to the success of the tourism industry and lack of it result to issuance of travel advisories; which are not only damaging to the continent’s image but also lead to lost revenue.
You will however agree that the good overshadows the ugly; collective strategies to control the negative impacts of globalization to the tourism industry, will go a long way in making the global village a better place to unearth.