The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, has said effective air connectivity within Africa is key to unlocking the potentials of tourism in the continent.

The Minister made the assertion at the 65th Meeting of the United Nations World Tourism Organization-Commission for Africa (UNWTO-CAF) which opened in Arusha, Tanzania recently.

“There is no doubt that air transportation is pivotal for any international tourism development (more so in Africa), owing to the need for tourists to move to the product destination. Air travels continue to be the dominant mode of travel for international tourists, accounting for over 50% of all international arrivals.

“It is obvious, therefore, that growing air transportation into and within the African region, including effective connectivity through the full implementation of the Yamoussoukro Decision on a Single African Air Transport Market is key to unlocking Africa’s tourism potential”, he said.

Alhaji Mohammed urged African Ministers of Tourism to co-operate and collaborate with their colleagues African Ministers of Aviation to achieve this (Single African Air Transport Market).

Reeling out statistics to back his assertion, the Minister, who also listed unfavourable visa regimes, insecurity, high cost of air transport and low quality of tourism support services among other factors hindering the growth of tourism in Africa, said Africa’s share of global international arrivals remains a paltry 5%.

“The truth is that the performance of the region’s aviation industry, though improving, continues to lag behind that of the rest of the world, accounting for a dismal 3% of the global air transport traffic. Of the 1,431 country pairs between the African Union countries, only 19% had some form of significant direct service in 2019 (that is operated at least once weekly on an annual basis).

“As of 2019, only 35% of the African routes were operated daily, and only 13% were operated twice daily while many operated at less than daily frequency. Such services offer passengers very limited choices in terms of their journey timing and prevent passengers from obtaining a convenient itinerary.

“This negatively impacts productivity and ultimately has a cost implication. New routes and more frequencies will shorten flying time between many cities in Africa. For example, as of 2019 there was no regular direct service between the Central African Republic and the Democratic Republic of Congo. The most convenient routing available then was via West Africa or Morocco. This could take between 9 and 15 hours while a direct service would take about 2 hours only”, he said.

Alhaji Mohammed said the liberalization of Air Transport in Africa is so important, because it will lead to an additional 145 country pairs that will receive direct service, boost tourism and also increase frequencies on existing routes by 27%.

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