Europe is currently experiencing some of the hottest temperatures of summer so far, with yet another heatwave expected to push the mercury close to record-breaking levels in the coming days. Data from the European Space Agency says Italy, Spain, France, Germany, and Poland may see extreme conditions. The World Meteorological Organisation has warned that extreme weather resulting from a warming climate is, unfortunately, becoming the new normal. Periods of intense heat occur within natural weather patterns, but globally they are becoming more frequent, more intense, and longer-lasting due to global warming.

Yet the heat presents opportunities for other countries. The sweltering conditions across southern Europe are accelerating a burgeoning trend among holidaymakers, as more tourists prioritize milder temperatures or off-season travel to avoid spending their time away in the oppressive heat. Africa, with its diverse and rich natural and cultural attractions, is becoming an increasingly popular choice for those who want to enjoy a different climate and experience.

In the last few months, Mauritius has seen an influx of visitors from Europe seeking a reprise for summer heat waves and the war in Ukraine. The number of visitors to the Indian Ocean island surged 58% to 596,446 and its tourism revenue surged almost 70% to $779 million in the first five months of the year compared with the same period in 2022, according to data published by the Bank of Mauritius last week. Egypt also welcomed over seven million tourists in the first half of 2023, setting a new record and surpassing the number of tourists last year by a significant margin.

In line with this trend, Tanzania is working on attracting more tourists from Belgium and strengthening its bilateral relations with the European nation. President Hussein Mwinyi recently met with the Belgium Ambassador to Tanzania, Mr. Peter Huyghebaert, and discussed ways to boost tourism and investment between the two countries. Its main tourist city Zanzibar offers a variety of attractions for visitors, such as pristine beaches, coral reefs, spice farms, historical sites, and wildlife reserves. The island also has a moderate climate throughout the year, with average temperatures ranging from 25°C to 28°C.

The last two years have been challenging for the tourism sector. According to the UN World Tourism Organization, Africa received 71 million international tourist arrivals in 2019, accounting for 5% of the global market share. The most visited African countries by European tourists in 2019 were Morocco, Egypt, Kenya, South Africa, and Ethiopia. However, the lockdowns, travel restrictions, consumer fears, and economic downturns led to a loss of over 62 million jobs and $4.5 trillion in global travel and tourism activity. In all of this, Africa’s tourism sector lost $87 billion. Thankfully, the sector is showing impressive signs of recovery. According to the UN World Tourism Organization, international tourist arrivals across Africa have shown a 51 percent year-on-year increase in the last year. And 17 regional countries have increased their travel and tourism development index.

However, mass travelling to Africa during a heatwave has some implications for the continent’s climate condition as well. Population growth and climate change are interconnected. Rapid population growth worsens the impacts of climate change by straining resources and exposing more people to climate-related risks. This means that as the population in a place increases, the demand for resources also increases, leading to more greenhouse gas emissions and worsening the impacts of climate change. Africa is the continent most affected by the rapidly changing climate of the earth. Climate projections show that heat waves over the African continent will become hotter and more dangerous, even if global warming is kept below 1.5°C. Particularly increases in extreme heat are foreseen over Eastern and Southern Africa. Bearing in mind changes in populations, the number of people exposed to dangerous heat in African cities is expected to increase at least 20-fold by the end of the century. Exposure and vulnerability to extreme weather are more pronounced in many sub-Saharan African countries when compared with European countries.

Unfortunately, extreme heat waves aren’t systematically monitored in many countries in the sub-Saharan Africa region. This means that even heat-related deaths are chronically underreported, putting even more people in danger. Sub-Saharan Africa also lacks early warnings and no heat action plans. Although last year, African heads of state and government leaders, climate activists, journalists, and civil society groups came together at the COP27 to raise funds, make pledges, and negotiate on how to save the continent from global warming, Africa is still a long way to mitigating its plans.

source: Ventures Africa

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