By - Kiraithe Daniel Mutemi
Tourism opportunities in Africa are immense and unexploited entirely. International arrivals account for the more significant portion of tourists visiting African countries, indicating local tourism is not contributing to this sector to its best. The value of foreign exchange earned by African tourist destinations can increase tremendously in the next few years. This is if insecurity and infrastructure challenges can be adequately addressed and with the seriousness it deserves. Some of the major setbacks that the tourism sector has faced includes travel advisory issued by no-African governments to their citizens against traveling to countries experiencing attacks. Terrorism is s a global challenge that requires joint efforts to tackle rather than isolating those facing it.
There has been a massive investment effort in infrastructure by African governments recently. The east, especially China, has financed most of these ambitious railway and road projects in Africa. Some cities are, however, very congested and traffic jams leave tourists with bad experiences. Lagos, Nairobi, Harare, among other cities, are critically affected by traffic jams and therefore need an urgent and sustainable solution. Kenya, Tanzania, Morocco, and Ethiopia are some of the African countries that have embraced high-speed standard gauge railway to ease transport. This act is a strategic move by these countries to improve their local economic activities as well as the experiences of visitors.
Domestic tourism is still very low, meaning the majority of countries rely on international tourists to boost this essential economic segment. According to statisca.com, Morocco was ranked first in international visits among African countries in 2017 and 2018. It recorded over 11.3 million visitors, followed by South Africa, with 10.3 million foreign tourists. However, in terms of revenues, South Africa earned more international receipts than morocco. These stood at USD 7.5 Billion for Morocco and USD 8.8 Billion for South Africa. It can essentially mean morocco could be attractive and cheaper than South Africa. With the recent xenophobic attacks unleashed to foreigners in South Africa, the number of visitors is set to decrease as well as the earnings.
At the northern horn of Africa, Morocco, Tunisia, and Algeria have a combined total of 19.8 million visitors. Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda also members of the East African community rank almost together. The numbers recorded are likely to increase if these countries leveraged on joint efforts to market the region other than individual countries. This could help in ensuring a visitor who comes to the north African region visits Morocco and Tunisia or Algeria before departure. Africa can also market itself as one continent to the rest of the world.
While joint marketing is recommended here, it critical to ensure diversity in tourism attractions are used to entice tourist to visit individual countries. For example, a study conducted by Safaribookings (2018) voted Tanzania as the best Africa’s safari spot. At the same time, other countries have demonstrated their strong tourist points. For example, Kenya is the best place to see big cats, and Botswana is a leader in eco-friendly tours.
Tourism and travel business in Africa is mainly driven by digital growth that increased interaction among the players across the globe. There are active online marketing agents using tools such as social media, websites, and other online promotion tools to reach a broad audience than before. The internet has thus enabled instant connections of people with places, making it easy to book, pay, and tour any destination in the world. Africa is open to opportunities, and the internet is in every country, presenting an immense opportunity to market.
Marketing Africa needs innovation and a shift of strategy. Africa is no longer a traditional destination for safaris and wildlife but a combination of other products that are growing cities. Infrastructure development and peace missions will go a long way in promoting this continent as a destination not only to tour but also to invest in the long term. Improved ease of doing business recorded in African cities such as Nairobi and Kigali presents an opportunity for investors to take an interest in exploring business opportunities while on holidays or traveling for other reasons.
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