African tourism growth: Role of African diaspora – Ikechi Uko

0
African
L-R. Dr Desta Meghae the Liason to the African Union for the Diaspora African Forum, Ikechi Uko, Eiman Kheir of CIDO, Rabbi Kohan Nathannyiah the Executive Secretary PANAFEST and Oyetade Adeyemi of Foreign Affairs Nigeria

Africa today gets less than 60 million Tourists and this is less than France which is just one country in Europe. Most of the non-African Tourists are from Europe, Asia and the Americas.

The mindset in Africa is “When you speak to the tourism boards on the African continent, they will tell you that their market is middle aged, retired Europeans, so the industry is built around them,” says Cherae Robinson of Tastemakers Africa a bespoke Travel company in America.

According to the new World bank Report ” The Unexplained Potentials of Trade in Services in Africa ” 55% of all Travellers in Africa are Business and this is traditional Business 15% is for Leisure while 30% is for VFR Visiting friends and Relatives. The report also found out that flight ticket prices are very high compared to other regions of the world. It found out that the quality of hotels has to improve but is impacted by high cost of building quality hotel room as high as $400,000 in Nigeria while a similar room in other regions cost $100,000.

TRAVEL WITHIN AFRICA BY AFRICANS

Most of the growth in Tourism in Africa has come from Neighbors and fellow Africans. South Africa Tourism and Kenya Tourism Boards said as much. The growth is from Africa. This new understanding is the fallout of the debilitating effects of Travel Advisories issued against many Tourist Destinations in Africa by Source markets. This realisation after the Ebola debacle has emboldened African Tourism Boards to market more within Africa. African travels within Africa will keep growing despite Terrorism threats, Instability and poverty.

Africa is condemned to grow regional Tourism. That is the future of Africa.

PROBLEMS OF TRAVEL WITHIN AFRICA

Perception of Africa by Africans… Every African I have met in my travels in Africa believes his country is somewhat better than the others. Even Nigerians that will complain about everything Nigerian still believes his country is the best. The international News media especially BBC which is the most listened Radio station in Africa stereotypes every country in the eyes of other Africans  so we believe the other person is a criminal, the other guy is a fanatic, another a rapist. One guy kills albinos and that country is full of HIV/AIDS positive people. A country is full of hungry People and another is Xenophobic. That is the story of Africa told to Africans and believed by Africans. So Africans resist other Africans for no reason other than the fact they come from another country. So African neighbours are all distrusting of one Another. Kenya and Tanzania, Nigeria and Cameroon, Zimbabwe and South Africa, Ghana and Togo, Ethiopia and Eritrea, Morocco and Algeria. This is our reality in Africa.

What you don’t know you will avoid and what you avoid you fear and what you fear you hate. So most Africans make no effort to find out any good thing in Africa.

Today most Air travel by Africans is outside Africa. We believe the grass is greener outside Africa so we prefer to attempt crossing the Mediterranean even it means dying at sea.

The consequence of this mindset is that while our African Airlines are dying Non-African Airline s are growing in Africa. According to AFRAA the Association for African Airlines, they carry about 80% of African air traffic. Meanwhile over 36 African Airlines collapsed in the last 10 years in Africa.

But the good news is that the mindset is now changing as the African Middle class is discovering the Continent. That brings us to the Diaspora.

Ikechi Uko is a tourism expert