China Tourism Boom – A Dynamic Force for Capital Transfer to Africa

The People’s Republic of China travellers, according to the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO), are the world’s top tourism spenders, accounted for almost $260 billion in 2017 alone. This is coupled with phenomenal growth in Chinese outbound tourism globally.

China Tourism Boom – A Dynamic Force for Capital Transfer to Africa

The People’s Republic of China travellers, according to the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO), are the world’s top tourism spenders, accounted for almost $260 billion in 2017 alone. This is coupled with phenomenal growth in Chinese outbound tourism globally.

A growing part of that spend is now happening in Africa, reinvigorated by relaxed visa rules, increased interest in the continent’s cultural and historical sites, and initiatives that seek to appeal to Chinese tourists. Countries in Southern Africa, have had a significant increase in Chinese tourists and this is coupled with new visa regimes. For example, Zimbabwe upgraded visa category for Chinese tourist from Category C (Visa before travel) to Category B (Visa on arrival) for Chinese tourists. African destinations, therefore, stand to benefit from better jobs to be created with booming Chinese outbound tourism, and an open policy toward developing better cultural exchanges is important in this respect if Africa is to tap from the Chinese travellers who are now sought after by many regions around the world. It is projected that the People’s Republic of China outbound tourism will continue to surge ahead of other source markets and is predicted to reach the 200+ mark by 2020, projected to account for close to 322 billion in cumulative expenditure.

Indeed, with China’s booming economy, its middle class growing and expected to reach about 400 million by 2020. The number of yuan billionaires on the Chinese mainland could reach 110,000 by 2020, according to a report published by the Hurun Research Institute. These development buoyed by rapid economic growth would mean an increase in Chinese business people and high spenders affording long stay travel and high spending in destinations. Essentially, outbound travel from China is predicted to reach 154 million trips globally at the end of 2018 – which will be 6.3% increase from 2017 according to the China Outbound Tourism Research Institute (COTRI) Report. Impressively, an average of 2.8% of these travellers, is reported that they will be making their way to Africa and this would see 4.31million tourists bringing air travel, accommodation, ground transport, retail, the food industry and other travel value chains in the benefit stream much to the benefit of African economies.

While Asia, Europe and the Americas still take the largest share of Chinese outbound tourism, Africa has recently become an attractive destination as well, and the number of visits to the continent from China reflects this new trend. The levels of confidence in the African market is growing and this is supported also by cordial socio-economic and political cooperation that is enjoyed between China and Africa. Currently, Morocco, South Africa, Madagascar and Namibia are now considered top destinations in the continent for Chinese tourists. It is also expected with more support towards Zimbabwe’s Ministry of Environment, Tourism and Hospitality Industry and treasury being generous for its budgetary support towards the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority, the country stands to also grow its Chinese tourist numbers and benefit from that growing market. There is no doubt that Zimbabwe, like other African destinations, remains fundamentally important and attractive to the Chinese outbound tourism.

Notably, the greater interest in Africa among Chinese tourists is partly due to a shift in strategy by African nations, along with support from Chinese political leadership and policymakers. African countries have developed national strategies targeting Chinese tourists’ spending power, as well as Chinese capital, tourism know-how and logistical strength. Showing its awareness of the importance of Chinese tourism, many African countries such as Morocco decided to grant visa waiver for the Chinese visitors in 2016, and as mentioned earlier on, Zimbabwe and many others, have upgraded the People’s Republic of China visitors from Visa Category C (Visa before travel) to Category B (Visa on arrival). The move consequently, results in high arrivals from China and spending which benefits African economies.

The other important development identified by China Outbound Tourism Research Institute (COTRI) is the fact that Chinese tourists seek five things in a travel destination: the beauty and uniqueness of the continent rated (56%), safety (47%), ease of group visa procedures (45%), friendliness of locals to tourists (35%) and affordability (34%). This is particularly relevant for Zimbabwe and other African markets and these explain how the tourism industry would need to organize itself and tap optimally from the Chinese market. It also highlighted that easier visas in North and East Africa, coupled with improved tailor-made product offerings are driving the growth of Chinese tourist arrivals in those regions. In Southern Africa, Namibia is performing incredibly while Kenya and Tanzania were named as the ‘hottest up-and-coming African destinations for the China market’ by COTRI.

As spending by the China market increases globally, high-net-worth individuals are said to be leaning toward adventure travel, exciting locations with pristine flora and fauna and – very promisingly, for the African continent – there is growing keenness to explore less-well-known African destinations. The trend in terms of spending generally represent free capital transfer, and if the continent leverages this form of affirmative and voluntary support by the Chinese market, there are huge opportunities for tourism to transform Africa in terms of GDP contribution and employment creation to contain the demographically young population. Many are lost as they try to cross the Mediterranean Sea to Europe where many seek jobs in the tourism and hospitality industry. Africa’s Agenda 2063 highlights the importance of tourism development and this can be part of the solution to curb out migration of the continent’s key population and keep them inside the continent for development. Thus, there is logic in harnessing the Chinese market and take advantage of it to develop tourism in Africa. Additionally, favourable investments and product development policies should be enacted, land also availed to put up infrastructure that captures the Chinese market. This will ensure that the environment and product taste conform to this market. Fortunately, at the political-administration levels, there is growing cooperation and goodwill, hence the private sector between Africa and China must follow suit and support high-level cooperation for the development of tourism and consequently, the two communities.

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Author: Dr. Darlington Muzeza

Knowledge, Experience and Attributes: I have lectured at tertiary (colleges), secondary and primary school levels; Passionate about imparting knowledge, skills and adaptive management as fundamental strategies to improving programs and its associated impact on communities in terms of development. Experienced in transboundary biodiversity governance, conservation and natural resource management; communities’ livelihoods and social ecology, conflict management and resolution. I have proven ability to develop concepts and I am a strategic planner with ability to promoting creative thinking while taking into account environmental sensitivities; I have passion in the fields of community development, governance, crisis and risk transformation among communities including management of social relationships; A strategic thinker with a developed capacity to build and convey the “big picture” as a team player; Excellent research skills, with strong political judgment; Proven ability to negotiate, challenge and confront issues, spot both risks and opportunities, brokering solutions to achieve goals; And have the capacity to negotiate bilateral and multilateral agreements at inter-governmental, non-governmental levels and can mobilise communities to secure broad-based support and participation of communities in programmes and projects. I have the capacity to undertake monitoring and evaluation including Environmental Impact Assessment compliance processes and I have done so as part of the Zimbabwe UNESCO National Committee investigation in Mana Pools National Park. Immense supervisory abilities and I supervised the Visitor Exit Survey (2015-2016) for Zimbabwe; I have experience in management of national projects and can lead stakeholder teams in project formulation, implementation, monitoring and evaluation; Knowledgeable in sustainable development issues, international relations and diplomacy with ability to provide strategic advisory services and manage lobbies at local and global levels to raise profiles of strategic issues and brands; Well-versed in sustainable tourism development planning; Experienced in concepts development; advocacy and community mobilization; Worked tirelessly for my principals in relation to tourism development at sub-regional and international institutions like the Southern African Development Community (SADC) - Regional Tourism Organization for Southern Africa (RETOSA), the African Union and the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) regarding tourism policy consummation, institutionalization and programs development; Served for five years as a Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) Technical Advisory Committee Member on HIV/AIDS, Orphans and Vulnerable Children and Youth issues from 2007-2011; Have the ability to approach issues through a systems-thinking lens in a creative way; Proven experience with cross-cultural team capacity building, strong mentoring and evaluation skills; Have the ability to multi-tasking, prioritizing, pay simultaneous attention to detail, uphold quality of work and capable of problem-solving. Experienced in teamwork and understanding of the importance of effective communications for effective coordination and functioning of teams and able also to inspire and motivate others while being accountable. Well-developed presentation and representational skills appropriate for diverse audiences, including the ability to make and win arguments. I am able to network with stakeholders at different levels, provide leadership and can work independently in multicultural and multidisciplinary settings with a proven record to work under pressure, cope with and manage competing demands, meeting deadlines and adjusting priorities. Doctor of Technology (DTech) Environmental Health (Graduated on 22 September 2013); Faculty of Applied Sciences, Department of Environmental and Occupational Studies, Cape Peninsula University of Technology, Cape Town, Republic of South Africa (period of study: 2010-2013). Doctoral research thesis examined and passed: The Impact of Institutions of Governance on Communities’ Livelihoods and Sustainable Conservation in the Great Limpopo Transfrontier Park: The study of Makuleke and Sengwe Communities. Concentration of applied Doctoral Degree research areas covered: Transboundary conservation practices, management, challenges and resource governance; Political ecology and communities’ livelihoods analysis; Tourism development and poverty alleviation; Conservation policy analysis; Conservancy typology and integrative local development; Rural development and natural resource conflict management and resolution; Community Based Natural Resource Management (CBNRM); Sustainable conservation and management and tourism development for sustainable local livelihood support. Thesis Proffered: A Synergistic Transfrontier Governance Framework; Participatory Biodiversity Decision-Making Model and an Integrative Amalgam of Sustainable Natural Resource Utilization Framework focusing on tourism development for sustainable livelihoods among transfrontier conservation communities.. 2. Master of Science Degree in Social Ecology passed with Merit: (August 2007); Centre for Applied Social Science (CASS), Awarded a Master’s Degree with Merit: University of Zimbabwe, the Republic of Zimbabwe (period of study: 2005-2007). Master Degree research dissertation examined and passed: Investigation into Legislative and Executive Environmental Representation in Harare: The case studies of Mbare and Whitecliff. Concentration of Master Degree taught courses covered and passed: Population and Development; Ecological Disaster Management; Human Ecology; Research Methods and Tools for Ecological Analysis; Rural Livelihoods Strategies and Ecology; Natural Resource Policy Analysis; Institutional Aspects of Natural Resource Management; Conflict Prevention, Management and Resolution in Natural Resource Use and Environmental Management and Protection. 3. Bachelor of Science in Politics and Administration-Honours Degree (2003); Awarded a Degree with an Upper Second Division or 2.1 Degree Classification: University of Zimbabwe, Republic of Zimbabwe (period of study: 2000-2003). 4. Diploma in Personnel Management (Awarded a Diploma with Credit); Institute of Personnel Management of Zimbabwe, Republic of Zimbabwe (period of study: 2004-2005). 5. Certificate of learning on Conservation Awareness; Zimbabwe National Conservation Trust, Republic of Zimbabwe (1999). 6. Certificate (special short course training) of learning on Tourism Management and Development for African Countries; China Ministry of Commerce and China National Tourism Trading and Service Corporation, Beijing, Republic of China (period of short course study: November to December 2009). 7. Certificate of learning on National Tourism Statistics and Tourism Satellite Account; Regional Tourism Organization for Southern Africa (RETOSA): RETOSA and the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), Training Program, Republic of Zimbabwe (2011). 8. Certificate of learning on National Tourism Statistics and Tourism Satellite Account; Regional Tourism Organization for Southern Africa (RETOSA): RETOSA and the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), Training Program, Republic of Mauritius (2014). 9. Certificate of learning on Basic Counseling and Communication; University of Zimbabwe in collaboration with the National Aids Coordinating Program: Ministry of Health and Child Welfare and the United Nations Children’s Fund, Republic of Zimbabwe (2002). 10. Certificate in Intermediate Course in Ms Word, Ms Excel and PowerPoint; Computer Centre, University of Zimbabwe, Republic of Zimbabwe (2003). Based in Harare, Zimbabwe and writes in his personal capacity. [email protected] or +263775846100

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