Dubbed as the Mother Continent due to it being the oldest inhabited continent on Earth, Africa is still the Earth’s hidden gem with great lakes, crystal blue beaches with pearly white sands, jaw-dropping flora and majestic wildlife and mountains within its borders.
According to the 2014 UN World Tourism Organization report, Africa achieved a 2% increase in tourism in 2014 reaching an estimated $36 billion in revenue from $1 billion the previous year. International tourist arrivals in the African region were highest in sub-Saharan Africa with an average 3% increase from the previous year. This was higher than the North African region, which only increased by 1% due to geo-political conflict and the Ebola virus as the main curbs to growth.
The World Travel and Tourism Council reports that tourism and travel contributed 8.5% to the continent’s GDP, which is an average amount of $177.8bn, and it also contributed to 2.9% of employment in hotels, travel agents, airlines and other passenger transportation services, restaurants and leisure industries. Leisure is the main reason that tourists visit Africa.
Intra Africa travel is relatively popular on the continent; however the majority of visitors traveling to the continent are visitors mainly from North America, Asia and Europe. Intra Africa travel occurs regionally mainly due to the close proximity of countries, and also, visa requirements among regional countries are not as stringent as requirements for nationals outside the specific regional bloc. It is also cheaper to visit neighboring countries or countries within a regional bloc in terms of traveling transportation.
In South Africa, Africa continues to account for the largest share of arrivals, particularly from Southern African regions. In Tanzania, China, Poland, and Canada accounted for the highest number of visiting tourists, with Morocco, Mozambique, Senegal, South Africa, Nigeria, Rwanda, Angola, Ethiopia, Benin and Mauritius accounting for African nationals that visited the country for tourism purposes. Uganda accounted for the majority of African visitors to Kenya. In Rwanda, majority of visits were from regional nationals from DRC, Uganda, Burundi, Tanzania and Kenya which accounted for 81% of all tourist activity while non-African nationals accounted for 16% of all travel. In Botswana, the US and UK account for the majority of international tourists while SA, Zimbabwe, Zambia and Namibia account for the majority of African travelers. Morocco also attracts regional visitors from Spain due to its close proximity to the country and other European countries in that region, as well as visitors from Algeria.
Intra African flights are generally expensive, ranging from $461 to well over $972 on average, which is mostly unaffordable to the majority of people living on the continent. A flight to Madrid from Johannesburg starts at an average price of $519, whereas a flight to Marrakech in Morocco can start at an average cost of $1,038 with 2 stops in between from the main airline suppliers which are Qatar Airways, British Airways and Air France.
Strides have been made in visa regulation to make African travel easier and more accessible to Africans wanting to tour the continent; however, this mainly occurs regionally. Passports are the main requirement for touring most African countries, the Republic of Seychelles being a prime example as only a passport and other documentation are required upon entry into the country, and for regions that do require a visa, the application fee can be hefty as it starts at an average price of over $50.