The second World Travel Market Africa started in Cape Town yesterday (15 April) with Mayor Patricia de Lille and Deputy Minister of Tourism in South Africa, Tokozile Xasa, officially opening the event.
Cape Town Tourism, CEO, Enver Duminy welcomed delegates to Cape Town and stressed the importance of connection in forging new tourism markets. Duminy also called on the industry to play a part in addressing misperceptions around Africa.
Looking at changing travel habits within African, Euromonitor Research Analyst, Ronald Tinashe Mapiya, said that the expansion of travel on the continent faced some challenges but also exhibited some promising signs.
According to Euromonitor, governments in Africa are uniformly investing less in the development of domestic travel and the current airline environment is highly regulated. However, a rising middle class and commercial appetite to expand into African travel could define a new era for travel on the continent.
Tinashe Mapiya said that Africa did not have a culture of leisure travel. In many African countries, travel was considered part of family responsibility or was undertaken for work. In addition, the perception amongst most African cultures was that travel for leisure was reserved for the wealthy only.
Euromonitor did however point out that, in research conducted across emerging markets – Africa, India and Brazil – travel expenditure was not always equivalent to wealth with a high travel expenditure already being achieved by lower-income households.
Should competitive airline rates continue to open the playing field for travel on the continent, the hope would be that product offerings could meet the emerging market’s need with budget-friendly accommodation and in-destination activity.
Technology is also a willing partner to the explosion of African leisure travel growth. New players in African travel could expect e-commerce to enable trade. Platforms such as M’Pesa, Eco Cash and Computicket are poised to facilitate the economic activity that rapid expansion of consumer demand across much of the continent could bring. Partnerships between travel companies and retailers are another promising avenue for stimulating growth in African travel.
Says Cape Town Tourism CEO, Enver Duminy; “Affordable travel on the African continent not only adds up to a better overall travel story for individual destinations, but it’s also essential to growing a stronger tourism sector on the continent – economically and in terms of perception and global representation.”