This year, Africa looks set to capitalise on a range of global trends ranging from transformational travel experiences to bleisure tourism
Analysing Africa’s tourism prospects, from wellness to bleisure travel
Tourism is a growing sector in many African countries.
According to the Latitude Hotels Group’s 2019 CSR Report, in 2018 tourism was the highest foreign exchange earner in Uganda, representing 18.5 percent of the total export. Meanwhile, in Zambia it was the fastest growing economic sector – according to the World Travel and Tourism Council, international visitor spend represented seven percent of the country’s export total.
“Tourism in Africa enjoys continuous growth, partly made possible by prevailing peace conditions in many countries, air accessibility and diversity of attractions supporting investments,” commented Judy Kepher-Gona, Executive Director of Sustainable Travel & Tourism Agenda. For example, 2020 will see several new direct flight routes opening up between Africa and the
US, such as Rwanda Air’s direct flight from New York to Kigali.
However, Kepher-Gona stresses the importance of taking community wellbeing and sustainable development into account when expanding tourism provision. It will also be important for Africa to harness global tourism trends to keep on pulling in the crowds.
One such global trend is ‘transformational travel’ – a desire for meaningful connections with people, wildlife and the environment while travelling. According to Sherwin Banda, President of African Travel Inc., Africa is well-placed to deliver such experiences. “African Travel focuses on making sure every trip has a positive impact, whether it’s engaging with wildlife through an elephant rehabilitation programme, tracking gorillas responsibly in Rwanda or Uganda, or trailblazing new experiences for travellers to engage with people and wildlife,” he said.
Africa is also well-placed to capitalise on a recent global interest in walking holidays, which are an environmentally friendly way of discovering a country. According to tourism insiders, more active safari experiences will be trending in 2020.
“Tourists are moving away from being sedentary, only sitting in a game vehicle, watching, seeing. They also want an immersive and interactive programme where they can meet local communities and learn about their culture,” said Murray Gardiner, CEO at Giltedge Africa.
Walking safaris in Kenya and Uganda will be increasingly popular in 2020, as will visiting more off-the-beaten track locations on active excursions, such as horseback riding.