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World Bank Says Sub-Saharan African Tourism Key for Jobs

Sub-Saharan Africa has the world’s fastest-growing tourism industry as the continent attracts hotel investments to cater for foreign visitors and African travelers with rising incomes, according to the World Bank.

Tourism on the continent is forecast to employ about 6.7 million people by 2021 and returns on investments “are among the highest in the world,” the Washington-based lender said in an e-mailed statement today.

“Sub-Saharan Africa is outpacing other regions in tourism growth,” it said. “Global hotel chains are expanding across Africa, recognizing investment potential and committing millions of dollars in new projects over the next few years.”

Cape Verde, Kenya, Mauritius, Namibia, Rwanda, South Africa and Tanzania are examples of African countries that have adopted tourism policies to spur growth, liberalized air traffic and are creating solid investment climates, the World Bank said. Economic growth in sub-Saharan African is forecast to expand an average of 5.6 percent this year compared with 1.2 percent in advanced economies, according to the International Monetary Fund.

Accelerating improvements to sub-Saharan Africa’s electricity supplies, infrastructure and transportation networks would support further growth, said Makhtar Diop, the bank’s vice-president for Africa, according to the statement.

Marriott International Inc., Hilton Worldwide Inc., Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide Inc. and Kempinski AG are among companies with plans to build more hotels in Africa.

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