African tourism in 2022: the 4 champions and their achievements

Some 917 million tourists were registered worldwide in 2022, according to data from the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO). Admittedly, this is a recovery, but a soft recovery, these arrivals being down 37% compared to the level of 2019, the reference year. The years 2020 and 2022 have been marked by the negative impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic.

In Africa, according to data compiled from various sources (UNWTO, ministries…), tourist arrivals stood at 56.70 million in 2022. This volume is down about 35% compared to 2019. In other words, Africa has regained 65% of its pre-pandemic tourist volume.

Of this volume, 31 million were recorded in North African countries (including Egypt) and 25.8 million in sub-Saharan Africa. A more detailed analysis shows that foreign tourist arrivals in Africa are dominated by 4 countries -Egypt, Morocco, South Africa and Tunisia- which concentrated 64% of arrivals in Africa in 2022.

Egypt: leader despite negative impact of Russia-Ukraine war

Despite the impact of the Russia-Ukraine war, Egypt has managed to maintain its place as the leading African tourist destination.

According to data put forward by the Egyptian Minister of Tourism and Antiquities, Ahmed Issa Taha, Egypt welcomed 11.7 million tourists in 2022, compared to 8 million in 2021 and 3.7 million in 2020. However, Egypt is far from its performance of 2019 and its 13.10 million arrivals.

The fault lies with the impact of war in Ukraine knowing that Russians and Ukrainians had made the shores of the Red Sea one of their favorite vacation spots. Indeed, tourists of Russian and Ukrainian origin would represent between 35 and 40% of the tourists who visited Egypt each year. In 2021, Ukraine was the leading source of tourists to Egypt with 1.3 million visitors, compared to 700,000 Russians.

Meanwhile, tourism revenue stood at $10.7 billion in 2022, up from $13.03 billion in 2019.

For 2023, the Egyptian authorities expect a growth in arrivals of 28% compared to 2022 and hope to welcome 15 million foreign tourists. A level that would exceed the historic 14 million visitors recorded in 2010.

In order to achieve this objective, the authorities have implemented a series of measures: facilitating the process of obtaining the tourist visa, increasing hotel capacities and collaborating with travel agencies and airlines.

It must be said that Egypt is a leading tourist destination. The Egyptian coastline is a veritable treasure trove of white sand and crystal clear warm water. Magnificent coastal cities like Sharm El-Sheikh and Hurghada, overlook the Red Sea, the beauty of the wilderness of the Sinai desert and of course the historical sites including the magnificent city of Luxor with its Valley of the Kings, the temple of Karnak and the legendary temple of Luxor, are real assets of the country of the pyramids. And for lovers of big cities, Cairo is home to must-see attractions including the Great Sphinx, the Pyramids of Giza, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. In addition, the strong depreciation of the Egyptian pound makes Egypt a very attractive destination for Europeans and Americans.

However, the stalemate of the Russia-Ukraine war could have serious consequences for the Egyptian tourist sector.

Morocco: record tourist receipts in 2022

After playing neck and neck with Egypt in 2019, a record tourist year with 12.9 million registered visitors, roughly the same number as Egypt (13.10 million tourists), Morocco welcomed 10.9 million tourists in 2022, representing a recovery rate of 84.49% compared to 2019. The global recovery rate is 63%. A volume that places Morocco in the second African rank of the largest receivers of tourists, behind Egypt.

In the momentum, the kingdom’s tourist accommodation establishments saw their recovery rate reach 84%, compared to 2019.

Better still, tourist receipts have reached a record level never before reached by the Kingdom. They stood at 91.3 billion dirhams in 2022, according to data from the Foreign Exchange Office, showing a 166.1% increase compared to 2021. They even exceeded those of 2019.

On the outlook side, there is good hope that 2023 will be a record tourist year. The end of Covid-19, the promotion of the tourist destination at the level of major world tourist events and the effects of the good campaign of the Moroccan team at the 2022 World Cup in Qatar should boost the Morocco destination.

Beyond that, Morocco can count on its diversified tourist assets with quality seaside, cultural and sports offers.

Finally, the kingdom adopted a new strategic roadmap for the tourism sector 2023-2026. Ambitious, it has set a target of 17.5 million tourists, 120 billion dirhams in foreign exchange earnings and the creation of 200,000 new direct and indirect jobs by 2026.

To achieve this, an envelope of 6.1 billion dirhams, over four years, is planned to transform the sector by acting on several levers: the tourist offer, the doubling of air capacity, the strengthening of promotion and marketing , upgrading of hotel facilities and the creation of new hotel capacities, strengthening of human capital, etc.

Tourist arrivals and receipts in 2022

Pays Tourist arrivals 2022 Tourist arrivals 2019 Tourism receipts 2022
Egypt 11,70 millions 13,1 millions $10.70 billion
Morocco 10,70 millions 12,9 millions $8.74 billion
South Africa 7,12 millions 10,23 millions $2.60 billion
Tunisia 6,44 millions 9,50 millions $1.70 billion

South Africa: tourism saved by Africans

South Africa is one of the top tourist destinations on the African continent. The country attracts with the beauty and variety of its landscapes and its wildlife. In 2022, the Rainbow Country welcomed a total of 7.12 million tourists. A volume that corresponds to a recovery rate of 69% of foreign visitors registered in 2019, the reference year.

If South Africa has managed to rise to 3rd African rank in 2022, it is only thanks to tourists from other countries on the continent. Indeed, of the 7.12 million tourists who visited the country in 2022, there are 5.54 million Africans, with a recovery rate of 73% compared to 2019, and only 1.57 million visitors coming from outside the continent (a recovery rate of 60%). This means that South African tourism has been saved by Africans.

Apart from tourists from other African countries, the only source market whose number of tourists saw an increase in 2022, compared to 2019, is Russia. The number of Russian tourists visiting South Africa increased by 107% compared to 2019. A situation that could be explained by the neutral position adopted by the rainbow country in the conflict between the Russia to Ukraine and which has made it possible to attract tourists and wealthy Russians to this country where they do not risk prosecution or the freezing of their property.

On the other hand, arrivals from the United States, the United Kingdom, other European countries and Australia stood at 80%, 71%, 65% and 52% respectively of their 2019 level. has fallen the most is that of China, whose arrivals represent only 14% of those in 2019, certainly because of the Covid pandemic in China.

The low number of tourist arrivals from other continents can be explained by several factors. First, there is the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic and particularly of the Omicron variant which appeared at the end of 2021 in South Africa, resulting in travel restrictions to the country. Then there are the crises that the country is going through with untimely power cuts. In addition, growing insecurity discourages many foreign visitors.

As for the outlook, forecasts point to a stronger recovery in 2023. Last January, the country recorded 1.11 million visitors. This indicates a renewed interest in the destination.

Tunisia: tourism weighed down by the drop in arrivals of Algerians

Tunisia is the 4th country having attracted the most tourists on the continent. A total of 6.44 million foreign tourists visited the country in 2022. This number allows Tunisia to post a recovery rate of nearly 70% compared to that of 2019, the benchmark year for the tourism sector, knowing that the years 2020 and 2021 were marked by the impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic.

On the side of the issuing countries, it is the French market which occupies the first place with a recovery rate of 95% compared to 2019. Tunisia has exceeded the results recorded in 2019 at the level of the Czech, Slovak, Polish and northern markets. -Americans.

However, if Tunisia has not regained its performance of 2019, it is largely due to the sharp decline in Algerian visitors. Indeed, over the past few years, Algeria has become the leading source of tourists to Tunisia. Thus, the number of Algerian tourists who visited Tunisia stood at 1.2 million in 2022, against 3 million visitors in 2019. The fault is a late reopening of the border between the two countries. Algeria only decided to reopen its land border in mid-July 2022.

At the same time, overnight stays recorded in Tunisian hotels increased by 140% compared to 2021 to reach 20 million overnight stays in 2022. Here too, we are still far from the 2019 reference level. last year representing only 65% ​​of those of the reference year.

In terms of revenue, according to data from the Tunisian Central Bank, these amounted to 4.28 billion dinars (i.e. 1.7 billion dollars / end of 2022 rate) up by 83.1%. However, this volume remains below the performance recorded in 2019 and represents only 76% of that of the reference year.

Regarding the outlook, the Tunisian authorities hope that 2023 will really be the year of tourism recovery. And between January 1 and February 20, 2023, Tunisia recorded 911,431 visitors, compared to 396,525 visitors during the same period last year. This volume is even higher than that recorded during the same period in 2019 which was 824,971 visitors.

In conclusion, after the tourist recovery recorded in 2022, the current year should be one of confirmation. According to the UNWTO, globally, international tourist arrivals could reach 80-95% of their pre-pandemic levels. The end of Covid-19 restrictions, and the desire to travel after three difficult years should boost global tourism and benefit African host countries. However, the evolution of the Russia-Ukraine war could also constitute a handicap for a real recovery. Some countries could be hard hit, including Egypt, which is heavily dependent on Russian and Ukrainian tourists.