Editors Note: Will Open Skies Drive Tourism?
With no doubt, aviation plays a central role in supporting tourism. Over 54% of international tourists now travel by air and aviation in Africa remains one of the fastest growing sectors today. With a noticeable increase in the number of passengers, the continent is becoming a destination of worldwide airlines, and a major market for business aviation. On the other hand, tourism makes a major contribution to the African economy. An estimated 5.8 million people are employed in areas supported by the steady influx of overseas visitors, most of whom arrive in the region by air, and contributed $46 billion to GDP in African economies in 2014. Recently, African countries took the first major step towards cheaper continental flights and opening the continent’s skies almost three decades after it was first proposed. On 28 January 2018, twenty-three African countries launched the Single African Air Transport Market (SAATM) initiative by the African Union (AU). The bigger picture is the promise of job creation, improved intra-African trade and freer movement of people. However, some experts are still very pessimistic about the idea. A few experts believe that SAATM will lead to the supremacy of African skies by a few, already dominant African airlines since most African countries do not have enough financial resources to capitalise their airlines. Martin Chemhere believes that the Zimbabwe aerospace industry is a promise to huge prospects, especially after a change of government in the country (see page 52) and in another update from Kigali, RwandAir recently commenced flights to Abuja in Nigeria and Cape Town in South Africa. Bringing the total destinations of the airline to twenty-six. In this edition, Kate Webster – a new addition to our editorial team, treks into the forest to spend time with both gorillas and the Batwa Pygmy people of Bwindi – the original people of the Uganda’s Bwindi National Park’s rainforest (see page 34). Africa as one of the most diverse continents on the planet has it all; vast deserts, lush jungles and tropical paradise islands. Sadly for many countries, mainstream tourists are still put off by all the red tape.. Many people regularly visit popular places like Egypt, Morocco and South Africa, but have no idea of the least-visited places. Find out more on this subject with Matt Baron in his piece on page 12. At Nomad Africa, showcasing Africa’s unique destinations is our passion. This is the same reason we work closely with government tourism boards across the continent to showcase their destinations and improve on their tourism figures. In so doing, we have created a unique platform for clients wishing to promote business, investments and awareness of their services and products in Africa. If you are yet to get in touch, the best time to do so is now. Finally, as I page through the contents of this special aviation edition of the magazine, I can’t but stop asking myself; will open skies really be able to drive tourism significantly in Africa?