Tourism trends in Africa: mobile is the game-changer

2017-04-20 13:50 - Kavitha Pillay
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Cape Town - Travel into Africa for business and leisure is on the rise, with 39 million inbound trips expected annually in Africa by 2020.

This is according to research conducted by Euromonitor International - a global market publisher that provides reports and statistics on industries, countries and consumers – that presented its findings on tourism trends in Africa at World Travel Market Africa (WTMA), currently taking place at Cape Town's International Convention Centre.

SEE: #AfriTravel: WTM Africa 2017 showcases best of tourism on the African continent

Speaking at WTMA, Christy Tawii - a research analyst at Euromonitor International – says that online sales power is on the rise. “Mobile is proving to be a game-changer with mobile bookings and sales increasing at an alarming rate,” she says.

Online travel services such as Airbnb and Uber are also “changing the travel landscape” according to Tawii, who says that in Nairobi, Kenya, Uber went as far as implementing helicopter services for corporate use.

Christy Tawii speaking at the World Travel Market Africa 2017 - Photo: Kavitha Pillay

Business beats leisure

While “business and leisure is prospering” in Africa, Tawii says “leisure travel does not compare to business even though it’s picking up” and “niche tourism is the reason for leisure tourism”.

According to Euromonitor International, niche tourism in includes sport, medical, cultural, safari, beach and eco-tourism. In South Africa, medical tourism is growing as people from across the continent come to make use of state-of-the-art medical facilities.

“There’s also a demand for luxury hotels dues to business travel,” says Tawii.

SEE: Africa's greenest hotel adds Fair Trade stamp to its green hub

Another trend influencing travel in Africa is the growing competition between low-cost carriers and scheduled airlines, with 10.1% of value sales split by low-cost airlines in Sub-Saharan Africa in 2016.

SEE: Becoming a global aviation leader: Is SA on track?

There was also increasing focus on domestic tourism with countries including South Africa, Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Nigeria, Ghana, Mozambique, Cameroon, Angola and Mauritius.

Overall, Tawii says that because Africa offers cheaper travel destinations, positive growth has been forecast from 2017 to 2021 overall.

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