Increased emerging market tourism to Africa driving new travel demands

Tourism travel in Africa is moving away from the dependency on traditional source markets of Europe and the US, with an increasing number of tourists coming from the BRIC countries (Brazil, Russia, India and China), and the Middle East.

This is according to a report released by global research firm, Euromonitor International, in light of the World Travel Market 2013 event held in London this month.

Furthermore, Euromonitor’s research stated that strong economic growth, especially in East Africa, is helping to grow business tourism throughout the region, while rising incomes and urbanisation are driving growth in domestic, inter-Africa travel.

The report also highlighted a trend towards family tourism in Africa, particularly catering for the needs of the BRIC tourists.

A demand for family-orientated safaris

“For each of the past three years, our family safari bookings have nearly doubled,” said Ben Morison, managing director of travel agency Imagine Africa. “People are getting more and more adventurous, and want more exciting experiences with their children. Not only parents, but grandparents too.”

The trend shows a demand for African hotels and travel retailers to offer more multi-generational holiday options to this growing consumer segment looking to see Africa’s Big Five (elephant, rhino, leopard, lion and buffalo).

“As growing numbers of visitors from the BRIC countries head to Africa, child-friendly safaris will become more numerous as many of these visitors travel in large family groups,” stated the report.

Chinese visitors have also become the fourth largest group of arrivals in South Africa, with over 132,000 visitors in 2012. This is expected to grow to more than 180,000 by 2017, according to Euromonitor’s research.

“Indian visitors are also embracing safaris, with many lodges offering Indian food and opening their kitchens to guests wishing to prepare their own food.”

Key safari destinations

South Africa remains a key location for family-orientated safaris, with the country’s southern tourism destinations being safe from malaria. “Kenya, Malawi, Zambia and Tanzania are also jumping on board with many child-friendly options,” added the report.

South Africa was ranked the third country in Africa (after Seychelles and Mauritius) in the World Economic Forum’s Travel & Tourism Competitiveness Report 2013, which assesses 140 economies worldwide based on factors affecting the attractiveness of a country’s travel and tourism sector. In terms of natural resources, South Africa is ranked at 17th place in the world, and at 58th place in the category of cultural resources.

Euromonitor’s report also revealed Zimbabwe as being the second top destination for safari travellers in 2012, followed by Botswana.

How we made it in Africa recently reported that Lonely Planet, the largest travel guide book publisher in the world, has ranked Malawi as the fifth country in the world for travellers in 2014 in its latest Best in Travel series. The annual ranking is produced as a guide for the top 10 destinations and experiences for the upcoming year.

Despite being the ninth first rated safari destination in the region, according to the number of travellers seen in 2012 in Euromonitor’s research, Malawi made Lonely Planet’s top 10 list for countries to visit for a number of attractions. Its Majete Wildlife Reserve is said to offer an uncrowded game drive. With the introduction of lions to the reserve last year, Lonely Planet said travellers can see the Big Five “without the pesky four-wheel-drive scrum so common in Africa’s best-known parks”.

The Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel 2014 also ranked Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe six out of 10 best regions  to visit in 2014, and Cape Town in South Africa as the third top 10 city to visit next year.