The following charts show the importance of the tourism sector to parts of the continent, as well as the pain lockdowns to curb the spread of the virus have caused.
Travel and tourism contributed $168 billion to African economies last year, according to the World Travel and Tourism Council. Island nations including Mauritius and Seychelles heavily rely on the travelers for revenue.
Several African economies without mineral resources and oil have managed to monetize their beaches and wildlife. Uganda and Rwanda are popular destinations for mountain gorilla trekking, while Mauritius, Seychelles and Comoros have drawn millions of tourists seeking seaside holidays. Spending by these visitors, a key source of revenue, has dried up since March.
In 2019, the number of visitors to Mauritius was about 1.4 million — that was more than its population of 1.3 million people. The picture changed when the Indian Ocean island nation imposed a lockdown from March 20 and arrivals for April, May and June were almost zero. The country recorded its last Covid-19 death on April 27, but that won’t be enough to get tourists back. Its national carrier, key to transferring the guests, was placed under voluntary administration and travel restrictions remain in Mauritius’s biggest source-markets including France and South Africa.
In South Africa, the impact of restrictions on the movement of people and business, also showed up in domestic-tourism numbers. Income from accommodation fell 99% during the first full month of the lockdown, and has yet to recover. The crash in food-and-beverage sales eased slightly in May as restaurants opened for delivery, but a renewed ban on the sale of alcohol could further weigh on the industry. Travel for leisure is still only allowed within provinces, which means seaside holidays and most game resorts are off limits to people in Gauteng, the richest and most populous province.