- UN World Tourism Organization says Africa has witnessed a tourism boom in 2009, while the tourism industry suffered a general decline amid the economic slowdown.
The UNWTO World Tourism Barometer latest report said that growth returned to international tourism in the last quarter of 2009 contributing to better than expected full-year results. International tourist arrivals for business, leisure and other purposes are estimated to have declined worldwide by 4 per cent in 2009 to 880 million.
Secretary general of the UNWTO Taleb Rifai said there has been a shift in the way people look at Africa as compared to 10 years ago. “Africa is now considered a very serious destination for travellers from the major generating markets," he said.
In its annual World Tourism Barometer released last week, UNWTO said Africa had bucked the global trend in 2009, with international tourist arrivals to the continent jumping 5 percent.
The report further said the World Cup football tournament to be hosted by South Africa in June has also helped to push the number of travellers to Africa even higher.
The 2008 election of President Barack Obama, whose father was an immigrant from Kenya, already appears to be encouraging African-Americans to trace their roots, according to the reports.
The "Obama effect" has helped bring the number of Americans visiting Kenya back to around what it was in 2007, before arrivals plummeted in the wake of the riots that followed disputed elections in December of that year, according to Murithi Ndegwa, managing director of the Kenya Tourist Board.
But the World Travel Market Global Trends Report 2009 has predicted the US president "will have a positive impact on Africa tourism for years to come."
The Kenyans are now building a tourist industry around the hometown of Obama's father in the modest village of Nyangoma-Kogelo near the shores of Lake Victoria in western Kenya, and which is a national heritage site.
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