It is a fact that the African continent has become a major tourist destination for foreigners over the years. People from all across the world have come to visit the sprawling safaris in Kenya, the sandy beaches of Gambia and Ghana, often competing with historic slave sites, and the vibrant cities of Cape Town, Lagos, and Dakar. It is projected that by 2030, consumer spending on tourism and hospitality in Africa will reach $261.77 billion according to Africa’s Tourism Potential by Lanry Signe. While this has definitely been a positive for the continent, the question still remains – have tourists seen all of Africa?
As I mentioned earlier, Kenya, Ghana, and South Africa have become frequent destinations for tourists in Africa. The island countries of Mauritius and Seychelles as well has also caught the eye of foreigners. Even a country like Nigeria, that was in the past not considered major tourist attraction, has now seen an increase in the influx of tourists.
The “Detty December” period, tagged by the residents of Lagos, happens at the end of every calendar year in the city and saw an upsurge in 2018. Detty December features a number of events ranging from concerts to theater, fashion shows and even cooking shows. The end of the year is also a period where Nigerians in the diaspora return home to celebrate Christmas with their family members and sometimes friends but is this all the continent has to offer?
There are several unexplored countries in Africa that arguably have exquisite tourist sites compared to the popular countries on the continent; however, these places have been overlooked by the public. One country in particular that fall in this category is the island of Cape Verde. I had the opportunity to befriend and interact with a few Cape Verdeans when I lived in Massachusetts for a year. The people from this small island nation told me that their country is very beautiful and it is perhaps one of the best places to visit on the continent. At that time, I probably thought they were just making up the story. Growing up, we hardly heard about Cape Verde.
Indeed, the facts speak for Cape Verde. A CNN travel article ranked the Cape Verde Archipelago as one of the top 30 places to visit in Africa. The growth of the island nation has been credited to tourism and a stable economy. According to worldpopulationreview.com, tourism grew by 28% between the years of 2011 and 2012 alone. This growth was more than the world’s average of 4%. As at 2017, the World Bank estimated that international tourism for Cape Verde was valued at $462 million.
Another country that is also not on the tourist radar but thriving with tourism is Namibia. The country has several tourist attractions for foreigners, which include places such as the Etosha National Park and Spitzokoppe, a pointed dome. The Etosha National park is located on the Etosha Salt pan and it is home to an amazing wildlife. The success story of tourism has been so positive. According to a report from the Namibia Sun, the country recorded a total of 1.6 million foreign arrivals in the country in 2017, which represented a 2.2% increase from the total number of foreign arrivals in 2016 (1.57 million).
Tourists accounted for 93.2% of the foreign arrivals for 2017. The report further stated that the largest number of tourist visitors for 2017 came from Angola (403,129), South Africa (325,968), Zambia (195,268), Germany (123,022) and Zimbabwe (89,241). Tourism in this country has been very vital to the economy. According to Knoema, tourism and travel in Namibia contributed $1.5 billion to the GDP of the country in 2018. This was a vast increase from the previous value $0.3 billion, which was recorded in 1999. Overall, the country’s tourism industry is growing at an average annual rate of 11.54%
There is more to the African continent and these two countries have shown that they have the sites to attract foreign visitors. As African States begin a new journey after the African Continental Free Trade Agreement, perhaps it may make natural sense for them to prioritize the ease of movement across countries so that Africans in the Continent will explore intra – continent tourism. This may also lead to a surge of tourism in Africa by Africans in the Diaspora and other tourists. While you make your holiday plans for the end of the year by no means visit the usual places in Africa, but spice your holiday and explore new nations within the continent.
Africa awaits you!!!!!
Paul Olele Jnr writes from Washington DC. He is a 2019 graduate of George Washington University and currently works as graduate Media and Research Intern at the Initiative for Global Development. Twitter: @wfdjpaul Instagram: @worldfamousdjpaul