49 percent of Africans now travel within the continent with little or no visa hassles

By Timi Obafemi

 

Hope is rising for intra-Africa travel in the modern post-colonial nation-state era, the Africa Hospitality Report 2018/19 unveiled by the continental hospitality sector player, Jumia has disclosed.

In the report it is disclosed that unlike was the situation a few years ago when the odds were very heavily weighed against hassle-free intra-Africa travel, today the reverse is almost becoming the norm.

And part of the trigger for these impressive outcomes, the report notes has to do with the introduction of several fresh pan-African initiatives such as the African Union, AU e-Passport, the introduction of visa upon arrival schemes, and the growing endorsement of e-visa and visa-free travel for African citizens in line with the concept of unrestricted movement of persons, goods and services across the countries remains a strong driving factor to the growth of domestic travel.

Most significantly, the report notes that Africans now do not require a visa to travel to 25% of other African countries, even as they can get visas on arrival in 24% of other African countries.

However, it equally notes that much more has to be done to ensure that the continuing anomaly where as many as 51% of African countries still require that Africans should have visas to travel within the continent.

The document is the 2nd edition of the annual Jumia Africa Hospitality Report and it sheds light on 2017/2018 trends in the continent ’s tourism, travel, hospitality and aviation industries.

It also outlines the fairly impressive growth that has been recorded in Africa’s travel and tourism industry has recorded in 2017 and 2018, and where there has been an increase in international arrivals.

The Jumia Hospitality Report further underlines the industries’ contribution to the economy, underlying challenges and the potential for future growth, as the African tourism continues to expand.

“The African market for online travel is still nascent with undoubted prospects. We are proud to once again produce a comprehensive report that highlights the diverse aspects of both the hospitality and aviation industries in Africa. This has been made a success by the input of our partners,” remarks Joe Falter, CEO of Jumia Travel & Food.

Significantly, although the continent receives only 5% of all the international arrivals, Africa’s travel and tourism industry continues to record impressive growth over the years. In 2017, the continent hit a 63 million high in international tourist arrivals as compared to 58m in 2016 (+ 9% vs 2016). As a result of affordability and ease of travel, domestic travel is growing in Africa, recording a high of 60% in local spending as compared to 40% in international spending.

The UNWTO’s Secretary General Zurab Pololikashvili explains the change in domestic travel landscape in Africa, noting that “people’s movement is no longer a luxury set aside for the few with high per capita income but a basic need for the ever-increasing majority of the middle class who create and shape the future generation entrepreneurs. A growing middle class is a sign of a robust economy. The existence of domestic tourists who have more money to spend at their disposal and thus willing to travel more has led to the mushrooming of low-cost airlines, upward growth of bed capacity in main cities, flourishing of the so-called shared economy etc”.

The report also breaks down the percentages of the various sources of traffic on Jumia. The high record in the mobile as a source of traffic is perhaps as a result of the increasing adoption of smartphones in Africa, which stands at 34% in 2018. 61% of the travellers are using a smartphone to book their hotel or flight on Jumia Travel. The African traveller still opts to Pay-at-Hotel as the mode of payment (65%) in 2018, even as the trust for Credit & Debit Card increases to 21% from 15% in 2017.

Overall though, Africa’s air passenger traffic share is only 2.2% of the world total with 88.5 million passengers in 2017, an increase of 6.6% from 2016. It is however expected to grow by 4.9% annually over the next 20 years, creating enormous opportunities for the continent’s airlines to grow.

Addressing how to competitively position Africa’s airlines in the global aviation market, IATA’s Special Envoy to Africa on Aeropolitical Affairs Raphael Kuuchi however notes that “the sustainable growth of African airlines traffic lies in removing the bottlenecks to effective connectivity, lowering industry operating cost and developing commercial cooperation among airlines. With the assurance of safety, security, competitive operating environment, ease of market access and visa facilitation, Africa’s share of passenger traffic will exceed 320 million by 2037.”

Clearly then, there is still a lot to be done.

 

 

 

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