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SSOUTH AFRICA, Durban – Thursday, 2 May, 2019: Inbound tourism trips to Africa are expected to grow, as the continuous improvement to lodging, transport and attractions offerings stimulates growth in tourism.
In a presentation “Africa gearing up for new opportunities” Christelle Chokossa of Euromonitor told delegates at the Africa’s Travel Indaba’s Business Conversation that in 2014/15 Africa faced various challenges. “During that time, we saw a change of regulations and Ebola, and this caused inbound travel to the continent to decline.”
However, since 2016 inbound tourism has picked, as countries have improved their lodging, transport and attractions offerings. In addition, many countries have implemented progressive visa regulations.
In 2018 Kenya’s inbound arrivals grew by 37%. “The country achieved this by improving its safety, implementing an open border policy that allowed for visa issuing to other African countries on arrival, and various strategic partnerships and improved air services that also included new airlines to the country,” says Chokossa.
Kenya is not alone, with many smaller countries in Africa also improving their lodging, transport and attractions offerings, thereby increasing their tourism contribution to GDP.
However, a major challenge is the difficulty Africans experience when they travel on the continent because of visa requirements, with travelers often needing up to eight visas to travel across their own continent.
Free visas are a mixed bag on the continent. “Benin and the Seychelles offer free visas to Africans, but Central Africa still remains closed. Rwanda offers free open visas to all Africans, and not only did this make it one of the most welcoming in the world, but it is also one of fastest economies in Africa,” says Chokossa.
The Free Movement Protocol aims to overcome the visa issue, but only a handful of countries have signed it. While 90% of East African countries have signed, only 56% of SADC countries have signed. The DRC and Angola are still very behind in this regard.
Transportation also remains a challenge with air travel remaining very expensive in Africa. “Ethiopia Airlines has showed a growth of 22% by engaging in strategic partnerships, developing infrastructure and the expansion of their route network, she explains. In 2018 it transported 10 600 000 with 108 planes to113 destinations.
“The upgrading of its airport, partnership with key airlines and its e-visa programme (when you book a flight you can apply or a visa at the same time) are an important part of this. This has had a knock-on effect on lodging which has increased. The result is that total inbound tourists increased by 48% in 2018.
Lodging in Africa is dominated by hotels, which are seen to be safe and convenient. However, short term stays at lodging such as Airbnb is on the increase. In Africa there are 100 000 listings across 10 countries with 3.5 million guests she adds.
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