The African travel and tourism sector is expected to experience substantial growth, with an annual projection of 6.5 percent over the next 10 years. In total, this sector has the potential to contribute more than $350 billion (Approximately Rwf433.3 trillion) to the regional economy. This growth will not only add $168 billion (Approximately Rwf208 trillion) to the continent's economy but also create over 18 million new jobs. This is according to a report dubbed Unlocking Opportunities for Travel & Tourism Growth in Africa, that was unveiled at the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) Summit on November 2. ALSO READ: African air transport cost remains a barrier to tourism growth – Kagame To unlock this growth, the report emphasizes the importance of implementing three key policies. Namely: air infrastructure, streamlining visa facilitation, and enhancing tourism marketing efforts. In 2019, travel and tourism made a significant contribution, exceeding $186 billion (Approximately Rwf230.3 trillion) to Africa's economy and welcomed a staggering 84 million international travelers. Moreover, this sector plays a vital role in employment, providing livelihoods to 25 million people, which accounts for 5.6 percent of all jobs in the region. ALSO READ: Artificial intelligence will revolutionize travel, tourism sector - Experts Julia Simpson, WTTC President and CEO, expressed optimism about the sector's potential. “Growth potential for travel and tourism in Africa is massive. It has already more than doubled since 2000, and with the right policies could unlock an additional US$168 billion in the next decade. Africa needs simplified visa processes, better air connectivity within the continent, and marketing campaigns to highlight the wealth of destinations in this breathtaking continent,” she said. ALSO READ: Travel, tourism investment to increase by 11 per cent in 2023 The report also delves into the historical journey of Africa's travel and tourism sector. It has faced challenges ranging from the Global Financial Crisis in 2008, where cheap credit and lax lending standards fuelled a housing bubble. When the bubble burst, the banks were left holding trillions of dollars of worthless investments in subprime mortgages. The Great Recession that followed cost many their jobs, their savings, and their homes. Africa has also faced disease outbreaks and political instability. However, the sector is resilient and on a path to recovery. Near-full recovery The WTTC projects that 2023 will be a year of near-full recovery for the sector. It's expected to reach levels just 1.9 percent shy of 2019, accompanied by the creation of nearly 1.8 million jobs. The report highlights several opportunities for the sector's sustainable growth, including strategic investments, improved connectivity, streamlined visa processes, adoption of low-carbon energy, and enhanced water efficiency. These opportunities pave the way for economic development, job creation, and sustainable growth in African travel and tourism.