Far-reaching Visa Facilitation Measures to Simplify Travel and Boost Growth
Frankfurt, February 07th 2024 – Africa’s tourism figures are developing positively and, according to UN Tourism, were only 4% lower in 2023 as a whole than in 2019 before the pandemic. In order to further promote tourism, African countries are increasingly relying on the abolition of visa requirements, especially for intra-African travel.
The African Development Bank’s Africa Visa Openness Index 2023 shows that 50 African countries have improved or maintained their accessibility. In addition to Gambia, Benin and the Seychelles, Rwanda and Kenya recently completely abolished the visa requirement for all African travelers.
Since January 2024, visa-free entry has been possible for all international travelers to Kenya. In the first week of January 2024 alone, the country’s Immigration Department received almost ten thousand applications for the new Electronic Travel Authorization (ETA), which allows foreign nationals to travel to the country. Thanks to the new online system, Kenya hopes to more than double its tourist numbers from around 2 million visitors to 5 million arrivals per year within the next 5 years.
„The introduction of a liberal visa policy will not only enable smooth travel, but will also contribute significantly to cross-border investment in Africa,“ affirms Hanna Kleber from Voice4Africa, founding member of the ReThinking Africa Initiative, which, among other things, promotes investment in Africa’s tourism industry.
In addition to tourists from overseas, African destinations are increasingly attracting travelers from the African middle class. This is also reflected in the tourism figures for 2023 in Kenya, Tanzania and South Africa. According to the Kenyan Tourism Research Institute, African citizens accounted for around 42% of tourist arrivals last year. Nigeria (+6%) and Ghana (+48%) recorded the highest growth among the emerging markets, meaning that the West African states are now being specifically included in strategic marketing measures.
Data from the National Bureau of Statistics in Tanzania shows that the majority of African tourist arrivals between January and August 2023 came from Kenya, followed by Burundi, Zambia, Rwanda and Uganda. During this period, there were more visitors from Kenya than from the USA or France. More travelers came from Burundi than from Germany or the UK.
A similar situation can be observed in South Africa, where, according to Statistics South Africa, travelers from other African countries accounted for the largest share of tourist arrivals in 2023 with a share of 75.6%. In the fourth quarter of 2023, the number of visitors from other African countries even exceeded tourist arrivals in the same period of the pre-pandemic year 2019 by 11.9%.
VOICE4AFRICA is an initiative of the KLEBER GROUP, a full-service PR agency with a special focus on tourism and many years of expertise in Africa. Together with African tour operators, the initiative promotes responsible tourism to Africa as a means of international understanding and a driver for sustainable development. Voice4Africa is the winner of the Corps Touristique Award for International Understanding 2023.
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Photo (c) Kenya Tourism Board