Africa Travel and Tourism: Trends for the New Year

by on 08/01/19 at 3:40 am

African Travel and Tourism players weigh in on trends, opportunities and challenges that will shape the road ahead.

Players in the travel and tourism ecosystem in Africa look forward to 2019 with full optimism for the growth of the continent’s tourism. Africa once again was lagging behind the international tourism arrivals and receipts for the year 2018 as the official statistics released by the UNWTO confirmed its. In percentage terms the continent made a steady improvement of its performance by 5.3 growth. However, the continent improved in the area of MICE which is the new force driving the global travel and tourism sector. From Ghana to Kenya, South Africa to Zimbabwe we bring you Africa’s tourism players and their predictions for 2019.

Let’s ride on the momentum and keep moving forward in our efforts to mainstream Tourism in the national development agendas of African countries with the indispensable involvement of the private sector so it can be a major leverage for job-creation, and youth and women’s empowerment. Tourism and Africa, both the epitomes of resiliency, continue to show their steady and inclusive growth, a trend I believe could be enhanced by two driving forces in the coming years: (i) The improvement of air connectivity with the launch of the Single African Air Transport Market (SAATM) which will have a ricochet effect on the key development of intra-African tourism and (ii) the nexus between security and tourism promotion, which will better prepare countries to prevent, respond and maintain their businesses afloat in an era where tourism symbols are sometimes challenged by cowardly acts.

I finally wish that 2019 brings forth even further the power of the tourism, not only in its economic dimension, but also in its healing and tolerant one as vector for peace.

2018 has been a fantastic year for Kenya’s tourism. A big thank you to all those who chose Kenya and even bigger appreciation to our Government and CS Hon Najib Balala and the Kenya Tourism Board for working hard for the destination. We express gratitude to all the Investors and tourism professionals who worked round the clock and still continue to work day and night to make it happen. Thanks to all the new low cost carriers who are opening the skies in Kenya.

2019 and beyond will be a golden year in tourism. The sky obviously is not the limit.

We are happy that we are 18% growth year on year out. We are also optimistic that nothing stops Kenya from aiming at 20% growth in 2019. We are also happy that the peace and joy we are enjoying has contributed heavily to this state of affairs.

In 2019, Ghana will welcome Africans in the diaspora with the celebration of the Year of return ‘’Ghana 2019’’ event. The North American market has been our core market because of the heritage and the year of return would help reaffirm Ghana’s prominence as the beacon of pan Africanism and spur the growth of that market. We will push to make Ghana the home for the global African family.

“Industry players and government should put Africans at the heart of their business and policies. Would like to see more African countries relaxing their visa policies, developing products that reflect the « African journey thinking » and marketing efforts doubled in promoting Africa for Africans. It is all about inter and intra- African travel and trade.

Tourism has become an important sector that has an impact on the development of every country’s economy. The main benefits of tourism are poverty alleviation and creation of jobs. For many regions and countries it is the most important source of income. Africa recorded US $43.6 billion in revenue. According to the UK’s World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC), the international tourism sector now accounts for 8.1% of Africa’s total GDP. Africa needs to heavily invest in technologies/Marketing that can attract international tourists if it is to compete favourably on the global market. This influx of tourists means more money coming into the continent.

2018 was another good year for MagicalKenya. We saw positive growth from our key international source markets, including from Africa. We also saw increased travel within Kenya by the domestic market, in particular to the Coast and the game parks en route driven by the Madaraka Express train service.

I am confident that 2019 will be another good year for MagicalKenya. The Kenya Government continue to prioritise tourism through various support initiatives such incentives to attract more international flights to the Country. Our national carrier Kenya Airways will also play a key role in supporting increased visitor arrivals through opening up of new routes, such as the recently launched direct flights between Nairobi and New York City. The Kenya Tourism Board’s strategy of product diversification and increased digital marketing activations will continue to open up new and exciting experiences in MagicalKenya.

I wish my tourism Family a Favoured 2019, where we will witness the growth of tourism within Africa, a year that will allow Africa to share its beauty, reveal its soul not only to Africa but the world. I am humbled to be an African for I know Africans epitomize Humility.

MICE tourism continues to be a key pillar in Rwanda’s tourism. In 2018 the sector grew at 16 percent and 2019 is already promising with a number of major events confirmed for example: Aviation Africa Summit, Africa CEO Forum, Transform Africa, ICASA amongst others.

The industry has performed very well despite this being a fairly difficult year economically. The industry is on a recovery path buoyed by the incentives instituted by government and the aggressive marketing of the destination by KTB. As a result we have seen an increase in the number of tourists as well as airlines flying into Kenya including the return of Air France after 20 years and the launch by Qatar Airways of direct flights to Mombasa.

2019 promises to be a good year as the industry growth peaks. We should see the USA leapfrog UK to become Kenya’s biggest source market following the launch of direct Kenya Airways (KQ). We are also going to see the growth of domestic and regional tourism with the low cost carriers increasing their footprints across East Africa. The Kenyan coast will be the greatest beneficiary of this growth as long as the current security situation prevails. We are most likely to see the accommodation establishments at the coast come under pressure to refurbish and renew.

In terms of growth, our membership has seen a 20% growth signifying an interest in the work that we do. As KATA we foresee growth as IATA introduces new regulations governing the travel agents in 2019.

2018 was a success as we saw the re-introduction of lions at Liwonde National Park and giraffe at Majete Wildlife Reserve. This, coupled with other initiatives in the recent past has enriched wildlife tourism in Malawi and was recently listed as one of the top 5 destinations to see Africa’s big cats. Looking to 2019, the diversity of Malawi’s tourism product offering abounds. From fresh water scuba diving in Lake Malawi, to biking in the contrasting plains of Nyika National Park, to hiking the magnificent 3002m Mulanje massif and memorable encounters with locals at various cultural events and music festivals. We await your visit to the ‘Warm Heart of Africa’.

HAPPY 2019 AFRICA – This year do what you love to do and give it your very best. It is difficult, but not impossible, to conduct honest profitable business. Africa can only be great when we all collaborate for a better continent. Life is a challenge, meet it! Life is love, enjoy it! Make 2019 a year that will manifest greatness for you and your business.

“After raving reviews about the destination by internationally acclaimed media houses and travel guides, Zimbabwe is poised for unprecedented growth in 2019. The response and confidence shown on the destination has given us the impetus to intensify reengagements efforts with the international community. Destination marketing efforts have been reinforced already for 2019 to make sure that we increase tourist arrivals from an impressive 2.8 million in 2018. After successfully launching the country’s first one stop shop tourism mobile application, AccoLeisure, Digital transformation and alignment to world trends is a key focus area for 2019. Tourism Investment promotion has also been a major focus in the year ending and will be escalated in the forthcoming year”.

Much of Africa’s remaining hidden gems are still to be discovered in terms of tourism potential. But the good news is that Africans themselves are becoming increasingly aware of these gems in terms of the awareness of where to go as end users and also regarding the investment opportunities these tourist sites present.

At Park Inn by Radisson Abeokuta, we have been seeing more domestic guests come for weekends and holidays. First, they are surprised and then thankful that such product of international standards exit outside of a mainstream metropolitan location.

Users of a product are the best promoters of the product; so with Africans themselves discovering and appreciating the domestic tourism products, demand grows as they tell their friends and acquaintances and the news spread. Africa has over 1.2 billion people; 10% of that is 120 million addressable market just within Africa. When we add the inbound traffic from outside of Africa, now we are talking huge potential.

We believe travel to West Africa will see significant numbers next year because West Africa still offers exciting unadulterated experiences that cannot be replicated elsewhere. There are major activities and festivals in 2019 that have already generated a lot of interest. From the opening of the new museum in Dakar, to the famous twins festival in Ouidah, Benin to celebration of 400 years of the abolition of slavery and the year of return in Ghana. 2019 certainly will see tourism numbers rise in West Africa.

2018 has been a year of many heights and some lows in Uganda’s tourism industry, as well as the global tourism industry.

At the Association of Uganda Tour Operators (AUTO), Uganda’s prime trade association representing the interests of the country’s trusted tour companies; we are most pleased at the many accolades and recognitions that Uganda has received this year as a top holiday destination from many leading organizations like Rough Guides, National Geographic, CNN and many others.

We are also pleased by the growing interest in investing in the tourism sector by both government and the private sector; new hotels and lodges, improved infrastructure, new tourist destinations, more tour operators, better conservation efforts, and the rising tourist numbers to the Pearl of Africa.

On behalf of the Board, Management and entire membership of AUTO, I wish you a happy New Year, and welcome you to experience Uganda’s stunning beauty in 2019.

  1. Travellers will expect more unique and seamless experiences. This will impact positively on intra-Africa travel, which will be influenced by increased visa openness and air access.


  1. MICE and Business Tourism in Africa will increase due to growing interest by multi-nationals and international hotel brands to grow their footprint on the continent.


  1. The use of Travel Technology for Africa travel will be higher than ever. This will be driven by the use technological innovations including virtual reality, artificial intelligence and more by both buyers and suppliers across the travel value chain on the continent.


  1. Advocacy against “over-tourism” will gain momentum in Africa as more travellers to Africa will compel suppliers to balance the creation of positive experience and unsustainable tourism practices.


  1. We expect African countries to work much closer together to attract more arrivals from long-haul destinations and spread the benefits, rather than competing among themselves.

As we cruise through the whirlwind of holiday season it is a peak season for tourist arrivals. This is an opportune time to look at what lies ahead as the New Year is now well upon us. I wish all in tourism and the tourist local, regional and international a prosperous 2019. Let 2019 be an even better year than 2018. I expect a boom for Namibia’s Tourism and the rest of Africa. There is a unique spot and niche for each of the African States which leaves part of the traveler’s heart where and when they visit. Continue travelling Africa for a test of cordial people & good atmosphere.

“2019 is a pivotal year for African aviation. Those states committed to Single African Air Transport Market (SAATM) must move forward before all momentum is lost. Open skies policies have delivered economic prosperity across other regions of the world and now is Africa’s time.”

In 2018, various African countries took a step further by hosting various elegantly organised tourism Exhibitions. This will definitely yield desired result in 2019 as the awareness of what Africa has to offer has increased. Coupled with the peace that is now noticeable in most African countries along with the ease of securing visas and the opening of some gateways to some select countries, it is expected that Africans visiting other African destinations will improve significantly in 2019. It is already looking good. All we need to do as Tourism promoters is to position ourselves to benefit from the progresses being made.

2018 has been good year even though the average rate dropped marginally. Occupancy was good and we saw a lot of group business coming through compared to the previous year. In 2019 we expect the trend to continue but also with an increase in MICE business generally to shore up.

Our key priorities in 2019 include (but not limited to) the following : -Intensive promotion of tourism products in the Kivu Belt area – With industry stakeholders, we plan to enhance existing and develop more products in the Kivu belt area this is expected to contribute to increasing local, resident and international tourists length of stay in Rwanda -Mobilize, in partnership with the Rwandan and regional tourism industry players as well as respective Tourism Boards to revitalize the East African tourism platform for joint tourism promotion with a strong focus on intra-region. -Capacity building programs for staff in hospitality, tour guiding, tours and travel operations -Enhance quality of education in private H&T schools through improvement and harmonization of curricula

May tourism thrive in 2019 by being fair & inclusive; offer decent work, eliminate slavery in supply chain; give host communities real opportunities, eliminate child sex tourism, reduce wasteful luxury, value destination well being, kick out plastic, be authentic & ethical.

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