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Sudan a growing tourism destination: UN

July 13 - 2017 GENEVA
File photo: Sudan Air
File photo: Sudan Air

Sudan witnessed a 118 per cent increase in the number of tourist arrivals within three years. Four out of ten international tourists in Africa come from the continent itself.

The international tourism to the continent has more than doubled since 1990, according to a report by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD). It expects that the rate will grow exponentially the coming years, turning Africa into one of the fastest growing tourism destinations in the world.

As for Sudan, the country attracted nearly 50,000 visitors in 2010 (numbers of South Sudan included) and 108,000 visitors in 2013.

International tourist arrivals
  1995-1998 2005-2008 2011-2014 2015
Sudan 33,000 363,000 597,000 741,000
Africa Total 24,084,000 47,819,000 55,931,000 52,803,000

Sudan includes South Sudan up to 2011, of which no statistics were reported.
(Source: UNCTAD calculations, based on data from UNWTO)

Much of Africa’s international travel has taken place within Africa. Almost four out of 10 international tourists to Africa originated from Africa in 2010–2013, but the numbers fluctuate significantly. In Sudan the share of tourists from Africa was less than 15 per cent, and unlike Morocco, Egypt, Gambia, the Seychelles and Mauritius it is not a major destination for European tourists.

Visiting relatives

Given the ongoing migration flows on the continent, international tourists from African countries visiting friends and relatives also account for these high volumes, the researchers stressed. Additionally migrant workers are likely to visit relatives at home periodically, thus contributing to the number of tourist arrivals.

Libya, for example, hosted more than one million migrants before the uprising against the former regime, and they came predominantly from neighbouring countries such as Sudan, Chad, Egypt, and Tunisia.

Political instability

In the report, Sudan is among the five African countries with the lowest scores in political stability and absence of violence. Countries affected by political unrest tend to experience a decline in the number of international tourist arrivals and tourism receipts. The social and economic consequences of political turmoil and a lack of peace can thus have significant effects on the growth of tourism.

The total contribution of tourism to Sudan's Real Gross Domestic Product as an average for the period 2011–2014 does not exceed ten per cent, meaning the economy is not dependent on tourism. UNCTAD calculated the contribution of tourism to the GDP at 5.1 per cent, but the share grew with 16 per cent during this period.

The UNCTAD used the states' annual change in the share of agricultural value as key indicator for economic development. In most countries, this indicator is negative without a fall in food production levels, indicating structural change caused by the growth of tourism arrivals and work in this sector. Sudan scores lowest of all African countries in this indicator, with an average 0.5 per cent increase in its agricultural share per year from 1995 to 2014.

Gender pay gap

Compared with other sectors, female leadership in tourism is relatively high, the researchers found. Women constitute 36 per cent of tourism ministers in Africa, the highest percentage seen anywhere in the world. There is a considerable gender pay gap in the tourism sector. In the hotels and restaurants sector, women earn on average 10 per cent less than men worldwide as well as in Africa. According to the report several factors may contribute to this, including direct discrimination against women and restricted working hours for women with childcare responsibilities.


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