SUMMARY – TOURISM REBOUNDS IN AFRICA AS COVID RESTRICTIONS EASE, WITH CHINESE TOURISTS RETURN IN AFRICAN COUNTRIES LIKE KENYA, TANZANIA, SOUTH AFRICA, AND EGYPT, WHILE THE RESUMPTION OF AIRLINE OPERATIONS FURTHER CONTRIBUTES TO THE INDUSTRY’S RECOVERY.
Chinese tourists return to Africa, boosting tourism industry recovery. China has selected Egypt, Kenya, and South Africa as the top destinations for outbound group tours. This move comes as Chinese tourists are returning to Africa after the devastating impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to a ministerial notice published on Jan. 20, Chinese travel companies will be able to offer airline and hotel packages to these selected countries starting from Feb. 6. Chinese tourists are making a comeback in Africa, and this is evident as the first tourists from China arrived in Egypt following a visit by China’s Foreign Minister, Qin Gang.
Tourism Rebounds in Africa as Chinese Tourists Boost International Arrivals
The return of Chinese tourists is expected to have a significant positive impact on Africa’s international arrival numbers, helping the Africa’s tourism rebounds to 2019 levels.
According to the latest World Tourism Barometer by the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), the removal of COVID-19 travel restrictions in China, which was the largest outbound market in 2019, is a highly welcomed step for the recovery of the tourism sector globally, particularly in Asia, the Pacific, and Africa.
China Tourism Academy President Dai Bin emphasized the need for Africa to optimize its promotion strategy and improve its hospitality system to unlock its vast growth potential in the Chinese market.
Africa’s Tourism Rebounds as COVID Restrictions Ease
Africa has made a remarkable recovery, with approximately 65% of its pre-pandemic visitor numbers being restored. This recovery can attribute to the easing of travel restrictions and a surge in pent-up demand across 116 countries.
The latest World Tourism Barometer by the UNWTO highlights that Ethiopia’s arrivals have already exceeded pre-pandemic levels by 3%, and Morocco’s tourism receipts have grown by 6% in the first ten to twelve months of 2022.
ForwardKeys, a US airline web traffic data firm, reports that Africa’s international inbound arrivals (-19%) have recovered at a faster pace compared to the global average (-30%) in the last quarter of 2022.
West and Central Africa Lead Africa’s Tourism Recovery
Africa’s tourism rebounds in West and Central Africa, primarily due to the significant number of visiting friends and relatives (VFR) travelers from Europe and North America.
Gordon Clark, Vice President of Business Development at ForwardKeys, highlights the growing interest from Portugal and Spain in Cape Verde and the increased seat capacity from the US to Ghana, attracting a more premium travel crowd. This trend is contributing to the overall recovery of tourism in West and Central Africa, surpassing the levels seen in 2019.
Kenya, Tanzania, South Africa, and Egypt have recorded significant gains in their tourism sectors, and the outlook for these countries remains promising in 2023.
The Kenya Tourism Board reports a remarkable 74.5% annual growth in total arrivals between January and November 2022.
According to the National Bureau of Statistics, Tanzania has witnessed a remarkable 64% increase in annual tourism arrivals during the initial ten months of 2022.
While South Africa’s arrivals from January to October 2022 were 47% below 2019 levels, the country’s tourism ministry expresses optimism about the sector’s recovery. Fitch Solutions projects a 46% jump in tourist arrivals to Egypt, reaching 11.6 million in 2023.
Resumption of Airline Operations Boosts Africa’s Tourism Rebounds
The resumption of airline operations and the reintroduction of higher capacity aircraft on African routes can further contribute to the recovery of the tourism industry in 2023.
Emirates, the United Arab Emirates carrier, has announced the re-introduction of its flagship aircraft, the Airbus A380, to Morocco’s capital, Casablanca, starting in April. This service upgrade will also benefit Johannesburg and Cairo, supporting inbound visitor arrivals and revitalizing Morocco’s tourism industry.
Furthermore, local African airlines have not only surpassed their pre-COVID operation levels on international routes by 2.28%, but some have also opened new international routes, indicating positive growth and expansion in the sector.