Amidst the dozens of bias circulating the web, as a potential tourist you might be guilty of thinking “safari” as soon as you read Africa, you will be pleasantly surprised to know there is so much more to discover on this continent.
Africa has a lot to offer the world and as the second largest continent, destination choices should spoil potential tourists with 54 countries to choose from but data collated over the decade by the United Nations World Tourism Organization reveals somewhat of a disparity in the sheer amount of tourists visiting northern africa as compared to rest of the continent, with the country “South Africa” the exception. Why are northern African countries more appealing to tourists ? We’ll get to that in a bit, first a look at the top 3 destinations in Africa.
As collated by the GlobalData’s traveler demands & flows database;
- Morocco – 8.7 million arrivals.
Morocco proudly holds the title for the most popular destination in Africa. France, Spain and Germany were the country’s largest source markets in 2022.
- Egypt – 7.9 million arrivals.
Egypt, another West African Nation comes in as the second most popular destination in Africa, welcoming 7.9 million Visitors. Germany, Saudi Arabia and Israel were its largest source markets for the destination in 2022.
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As revealed by United Nations World Tourism Organization the top 10 Destinations in Africa include 4 North African Nations namely; Morocco, Egypt, Tunisia and Algeria, with an estimated visits total of 24 million tourist Post Pandemic, none of the other regions boast of such astronomical figures.
So Why are northern African countries more appealing to tourists ?
Well there’s no simple one answer, except to say North Africa attracts a diverse range of travelers including religious pilgrims, adventure seekers, culture and sightseers, families, couples, eco-tourists, wedding tourists, sun and beach tourists, even Content creators. The Diversified touristic characteristics North African Nations offer trumps the almost monotonous approach western regions promote.
- South Africa – 6.8 million arrivals
South Africa comes in third place as the most popular destination in Africa. Zimbabwe, Lesotho and Mozambique were the country’s largest source markets in 2022.
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Tourism in Africa continues to grow at a rapid pace, boosting nations economic growth while simultaneously providing employment for its citizens, but a nagging question persists, will the rest of Africa constantly play second fiddle to the North ? Can West African countries ever compete with the North ?
Irene Aguh, Founder and CEO of Rêvie a travel startup,
Speaking on the general perceptive consensus towards tourism in Nigeria as a source of income and pride, Irene Aguh the CEO of Rêvie a travel startup said;
“Improving tourism in Nigeria is an ongoing topic amongst key stakeholders. Many local travel operators and agencies agree that there are opportunities for growth and improvement within the sector, however, the industry faces a number of blockers.
From concerns around insecurity and a poor maintenance culture to the volatility of the local market, we have quite a number of things standing in the way of making tourism into a major source of income and pride in Nigeria.”
Calling out the governments to do more, she added;
“the bulk of the work seems to lay on the shoulders of the private sector and it will require major funding and collaboration from the public sector to succeed.”
From her response we can deduce there is work to be done before West Africa can match the success of the Northerners.
On what it will take for west Africa to dethrone the northerners as a preferred destination she responded;
“While I think a win for Africa is a win for all, I do agree that tourism needs to be improved across the different subregions as it will only make us stronger as a continent. To position West Africa as the destination of choice for local and international travelers, there are a number of things that have to be done.
We need to identify, maintain, create and promote key tourist attractions across the region. Our governments also need to work together to create favorable policies for travel. All in all, we would need to figure out the smartest ways to completely reform the industry and integrate technology into service delivery”
Speaking to Africanian on how West African countries could do to speed up tourism growth in the region, Benin and Nigeria Tourism expert, CEO of GOTA voyages Olanma Ojukwu, believes “Accessibility” between West African States is “KEY”
“West African countries most open up to each other, Land, Sea, and Air. These restriction within West African states leads to the appreciation of expenses, case point “Airfares” which are really high at the moment.”