• Amistad Partners

Africa: What is driving tourists to the region?

Updated: Jul 28, 2018



In the past eight years, tourism grew by 17.3 percent in the top ten fastest-growing global destinations, according to Mastercard. In emerging markets, tourism grew from 30 percent in 1980 to 45 percent in 2015 and is expected to reach 57 percent by 2030.


It’s a testament to the importance of Africa that the 2017 World Tourism Conference was held in Rwanda and tour operators, tourism ministers, travel agents, airlines and hotels gathered to discuss the potential opportunities in the region. For independent hotels, this means leveraging the power of their brands to attract the many tourists already interested in Africa.


So, what is driving travellers to the region and what are they looking for:


1) Transformational travel and the luxury market: This is something we have discussed previously on AP Voice. Travellers globally are looking for new experiences and this is true for Africa more so than any other region. Transformational travel will disrupt the luxury market in particular. In luxury, travellers are looking for exclusive, unique, new destinations rather than over-the-top opulence. Seasoned travellers are happy to pay extra for a sense of adventure even if this means more rustic accommodations. For these tourists, they aren’t looking to go back with knick-knacks and trinkets; instead, they want memories in their hearts and an understanding of new cultures and people in their minds.

Inbound travel to Africa grew by 6.5 percent in 2017 to reach 18.5 million visitors. This is a strong increase from 16.3 million in 2012. South Africa, Kenya, Nigeria, Mozambique, Cameroon, Mauritius and Tanzania accounted for 70% of international travel to sub-Saharan Africa. And this trend doesn’t just apply to older travellers with more disposable income. Millennials are also taking notice. The lure of Africa is to experience something out of the ordinary, such as taking part in conservation efforts, seeing wildlife on a safari and visiting working villages of local tribes.


2) Multi-generational travel: Yes, Africa has some lovely, romantic destinations for couples. But, interestingly, multi-generational travel to Africa is growing. Parents are wanting to introduce their children to new cultures, new experiences. There is a strong desire for families to create stronger bonds and make collective memories and Africa offers tremendous opportunities on that front. Mainstream ecotravel websites like Responsible Travel are encouraging voluntourism where families maximise their holiday while contributing to worthwhile causes.


3) Multi-destination travel: Africa lends itself easily to multi-destination travel. Given the distances that need to be covered to get to Africa, it makes sense that visitors are looking to make the most of their time there by covering several areas. For example, we often see trips to Kenya being combined with Tanzania and Zanzibar. Scheduling these trips has also become easier with the availability of low-cost inter-Africa options. The International Air Transport Association said airlines in the region had recorded growth, with total capacity rising 6% and the load factor up one percentage point to 79.4%.


We have long-standing experience working with independent hotels in Africa on their corporate and leisure marketing and sales strategies. We’re always happy to speak to

independent hotels based in the region on what they can do to drive their business goals.

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