How Africa Can Develop into Extra Travelable for Africans

We need to take a closer look at what the African traveler is looking for when traveling and how expectations vary from Algeria to Zimbabwe.

Africa is a huge and diverse continent that receives millions of visitors from around the world each year, but more could be done to welcome its own. When people speak to us from outside the continent, they assume we have seen the fabled pyramids of Egypt or observed the magnificent Victoria Falls between Zambia and Zimbabwe. Nothing is further from the truth. We barely know our own backyard and may not change anytime soon if we don’t tackle these five obstacles that stand between us and the wonder of discovery.

Airfare

It’s cheaper on the road, but it’s a grueling journey that only someone with time and a certain amount of freedom of choice will take.

I cringe every time I check the cost of airline tickets online from Cameroon, where I live. For the average citizen just looking to explore, there is simply no incentive to fly to neighboring Gabon or shift the length of the continent to play on the beautiful Seychelles beaches. It is cheaper to fly to Paris from Douala, Cameroon (3,127 miles away) than to Libreville, Gabon – just 253 miles from Douala.

We don’t have enough traffic to bring prices down and often you would have to fly in the opposite direction to Togo before flying back via Cameroon to land in Libreville. It’s cheaper on the road, but it’s a grueling journey that only someone with time and a certain amount of freedom of choice will take. To solve this problem, African governments must work on bilateral and regional agreements and invest in pan-African airlines that can serve multiple destinations. Helping airlines cope with infrastructure and maintenance problems also helps reduce costs.

Visa

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“Visas are a nightmare. They are ridiculously expensive and mostly unnecessary. They require a lot of paperwork and you waste a lot of time putting it all together, ”says Katchie Nzama, a passionate South African journeyman and beer blogger Visited 34 African countries.

Katchie Nzama is a writer who has visited 34 African countries.Katchie Nzama

According to Africa Visa Openness, Morocco (Africa’s most important travel destination for international visitors with almost 13 million tourists in 2019) is only visa-free in six African countries. Three of them are the closest neighbors. Egypt offers citizens from four African countries visas on arrival, the rest must apply for a visa. Visas are not required to fly to South Africa from 17 countries, but most of them are the southern neighbors. For Africans, Tunisia is the best option among the top five international travel destinations open to 21 African countries. Mozambique is another great option as it offers free access to nine countries and issues a 44 visa on arrival.

Other countries are opening up, especially as Africa moves towards closer economic integration. As an African, it is now also possible to get e-visas in 24 African countries. The African Continental Free Trade Area, which began in January 2021, is hoping to open borders, but if you don’t want to worry about visas, the Seychelles, Benin and Gambia have an open door policy to all Africans. For more information, see the Africa Visa Openness Index. The website will help you organize your trips and will track the progress as more countries open.

information

There is simply not enough information about African destinations. Much of what is available on reputable travel websites is written by overseas visitors who may have different passions when they come. There are few up-to-date African travel guides in print and when they are available they are not marketed properly. I have 10 travel books, the closest being a book about Libya published in 1967. Many of the best images I’ve sourced for articles about Cameroon are credited to Americans and Western Europeans. That is changing as local bloggers do more to promote African goals, but government action will be needed to accelerate growth. These bloggers need open access to museums, art, parks, safaris, palaces, events and venues in order to document an authentic experience of the African explorer. Often the tour guides and travel agents who have the most knowledge of the continent are excluded from the conversation. You need support, education and resources to take African travel to the next level.

“My curiosity was the unknown. I do not plan my trips. I’m learning the basics like religion just to know how to be presentable. Everything else I go with the flow. “

Mapping Africa will change current stereotypes among people and reveal new goals and experiences. We need more African voices to tell us what they find exciting about our culture and environment. More locals need to explain to us how to get to a place and what to see when we get there. Information on costs, hotels, food, safety, transportation, welfare and attitudes is also crucial. We need to take a closer look at what the African traveler is looking for when traveling and how expectations vary from Algeria to Zimbabwe. A quick online search of the top attractions in Africa will give you a list of parks, reserves and safaris. Nature is the theme, but we still want to find out what inspires the people who live in it.

My solution to the knowledge deficit is to try as many experiences as possible. When I’m in a city for a few days, I try out as many hotels as possible to see which offer the best service. This way I know exactly where I am going on my next visit. This was useful not only for me but also for my friends in case they need to find a room in the same town. In order to move like this, I try to travel as lightly as possible. I have often found that local travel is not as expensive as I imagined. I always ask around and compare. Knowing about it, you are more likely to travel, and there is no better inspiration to travel than traveling itself. For Katchie’s adventures in 34 African countries, lack of information was the least of a concern.

“My curiosity was the unknown. I do not plan my trips. I’m learning the basics like religion just to know how to be presentable. Everything else I go with the flow. “

Transport infrastructure

Katchie Nzama

The vast majority of Africans are more likely to cross borders on land than in the air or at sea. Regardless of the route chosen, we need to set up more entry points to process people and luggage so that they can cross within the shortest possible distance from their homes. This makes cross-border travel cheaper, less cumbersome and less corrupt. Improving local and regional road, rail, sea and air transport will reduce transport costs and increase the opportunities for leisure travelers. More countries need to come together to expand their transport networks and connect tourist hotspots between countries.

At the moment we mainly travel for business and business purposes or for events. We are less likely to feel uncomfortable while traveling. So improving the travel experience will encourage travel. This includes better training in customs that are not always the nicest people to deal with. To avoid the delays and uncertainties about public transport in Cameroon, I keep an eye on friends driving out of town so we can share the cost. In addition to a comfortable journey with many stops, I also benefit from good company. Katchie has tried every available ride on her travels: Buses, trains, tuk-tuks, motorcycles, trucks, bush taxis, ferries and many others. She said she found public transportation affordable, especially in places where the tourism industry is well developed.

“Countries like Morocco and South Africa have established backpacking industries so you can always stretch a dollar.”

promotion

I mentioned advertising, but we need focused efforts to control how we sell Africa to Africans. This should start from design to delivery. Countries like Rwanda, Morocco and South Africa take tourism marketing very seriously, but the next step will be building campaigns and designing packages for the average African. Travel and marketing agencies working with local and central governments will play a vital role. Banks need to deal with the returns the travel industry can make at home when they are coordinated and focused.

Tony Vinyoh

For Katchie, it’s a journey of endless discovery. She enjoys the differences between different African cultures, but is also amazed at the similarities. Among the 34 African countries she has toured, she has been to some countries more than once and still cannot find a favorite.

“I have no. No country ever presents the same thing even when I visit multiple times. All countries were very accommodating. The fact that I travel alone as a woman has found many people who want to protect me and help me get to my destination. “

Katchie has seen a lot on the continent, but her biggest discovery so far is how similar we are as Africans. She thinks we’re not celebrating our similarities and I think we may not have spent time meeting. We haven’t been on the road long enough. We as Africans have to start exploring Africa.

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