Africa Sets Out Its Stall For Tourists
Africa Sets Out Its Stall For Tourists
African countries and airlines will benefit from a rise in tourists.More than 50,000 attendees at the World Travel Market (WTM) in London, looked at what the African tourism industry representatives had to offer.
The Vanilla Islands
The Vanilla Islands concept originally came to life in 2010 with the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) formally recognizing the Vanilla Islands Tourism Organization as an entity late last year.
The brand currently unifies the Indian Ocean islands of the Maldives, Mayotte, Mauritius, Comoros, Seychelles, Madagascar, The Reunion .Sri Lanka has been invited to join the grouping and developers also have their eyes on inviting islands off the coast of Africa and India. Seychelles minister of tourism and culture, Alain St Ange, was at WTM and said he hoped people would recognize the Vanilla Islands as a destination in the same way they did with islands of the Caribbean.
“We had as euro 800,000 budget from the EU to help us in 2013, and possibly more in 2014,” said St Ange. The Seychelles is one of the most visited of the islands, with tourism up 13% year-on-year, and by the end of 2013 it hoped to have received 240,000 arrivals.
St Ange added that he hoped to see more airlines visit the island, with British Airways making a return. Air Seychelles is looking forward to receiving three Viking Air DHC-6 Twin Otter Series 400 in 2014 to help with its domestic island services.
Ghana Tourism Authority said that while it knows it can’t compete with other African countries that offer safaris, it has its own unique attractions.”Ghana tourism has been developing over the years in our heritage, tourism and Eco-tourism-these are our strong points,” said manager Adeline Boateng.
“Ghana stands out as a preferred tourist destination in west Africa, with its rich history, time-honored traditions and its natural scenic beauty.”We have centuries -old monuments along the shores, which today are World Heritage sites due to the links of trading between West Africa and Europe, as well as the trans-Atlantic slave trade. This is a very important part of our history-one that visitors can learn about at our various museums.
“Ghana has many different regions in the country that all hold its charm, from the rainforest and waterfalls to stunning national parks and beaches.
“And, while Ghana isn’t known for its safaris, it is home to various animal sanctuaries, including monkey, hippo, and crocodile.
“We have friendly crocodile sanctuaries where visitors can actually take photos with the crocs and they won’t harm you,” assured Boateng.Ghana has steadily seen its tourist figures rise with increasing numbers coming from the USA, UK, Germany, and southern African countries and the sub-region.
Most visitors fly into Accra’s Kotoka International Airport, the base of Air Ghana, but outside of the capital Ghana has other international and domestic airports in the main cities such as Kumasi and Sunyani.There are 63 airlines operating in Ghana, two of which- Antrak Air and CiTylink (CTK) -offer domestic flights.
Emirates Airline has been making major inroads into Africa and vice president of the UK, Laurie Berryman, said he was excited about the airlines expansion in Africa. With six airports served in the UK (London Heath row, Gatwick, Birmingham, Manchester, Newcastle and Glasgow) the Dubai airline is witnessing growing traffic to Africa.
“Africa is actually a region Emirates is really looking at for expansion.” Berryman said. The airline added Conakry in Guinea last September.”Africa has a lot of natural resources, which is a big market for the Far East and Australia. Everyone says that Africa is going to the new Asia, as it has huge potential, and we are seeing good growth. We have just taken Luanda from three services a week to daily.
“We also connect to Lusaka in Zambia and Harare in Zimbabwe, where business is strong-we were one of the first airlines back in to the country and have been operating back there for two years.”Then we have the traditional markets, such as Nairobi, Entebbe, and Dar es Salaam, which all have strong links to the Middle East and to the east as well”.
Emirates had a model of its first class suite used on A380s and B777s on show at the WTM stand.”Our suite really allows the first class passenger or totally cut themselves off from everyone and relax in luxury,” said Berryman.
Air Botswana was working together at WTM with the Botswana Tourism Authority to promote the country.”Botswana is possibly the best destination for safaris in Africa, which makes our beautiful country and an instant hit with tourists,” said Charmain Lemkus, sales manager of the airline.”Whatever animal you want to see, you’re likely to find it in Botswana. We also have stunning scenery.”
The Okavango Delta is a unique Eco-system of waterways, forest glades and lush savannah grasslands, something you wouldn’t imagine in a country that is 80% arid and home to the vast Kalahari Desert.
“Then, of course, we have the beautiful Chobe River, home of one of the densest concentrations of wildlife in the country. These are just a couple of the highlights our country offers,” said Lemkus.
Botswana is popular for both leisure and business markets.”Gaborone is the capital and the business hub, but we also have Francis town, our second biggest city, which is the heart of diamond mining and was the centre of southern Africa’s first gold rush, “said Lemkus.
Air Botswana has been in operation since 1988 and links towns and game lodges within the country, and southern Africa, with frequent scheduled flights. While the airline has yet to venture out of Africa, within the continent it operates flights to Botswana from Johannesburg, Cape Town, Lusaka and Harare, and has a code share flight with Kenya Airways from Nairobi.
Within Botswana, the Air Botswana route network includes flights to Gaborone, from Maun, Kasane and Francis town.
“At the moment we just serve Africa but as a long-term strategy we hope to fly outside the continent-but that won’t be until at least 2017,” said Lemkus.
Air Botswana operates three ATR 42-500s and the larger ATR 72-500 TURBOPROP, RJ85s and a BAE 146.
After emerging from a decade of civil war in 2002, Sierra Leone is now a country ready to shout about what it has to offer. While the National Tourist Board of Sierra Leone has been attending WTM for several years, it is only in the last couple that it has seen visitor figures slowly creeping up.
“Sierra Leone is really a new destination, very unspoilt and environmentally it is still intact,” said Fatmata Abe-Osagie.”We still don’t have many visitors, but we can see a steady increase. To be honest, were not looking for mass tourism.”
Sierra Leone is touting itself as an Eco-tourist destination.”Were different to most other African countries as were still untouched; it is quite literally a virgin destination,” said Abe-Osagie.”Visitors can dive, bird watch, fish, do adventure activities-it’s an outdoor lifestyle and we are now focusing on Eco-tourism.
“We have Eco-lodges already and these are becoming more and more .We want to promote sustainable and responsible tourism and we want to keep our country clean. Were looking for people to come in and give back to the community.”
Abe-Osagie added that there is a lot of interest from international investors, who see the benefit and opportunities.
Visitors to Sierra Leone fly in to Lungi International Airport, which can cause a bit of a headache as the airport and the country’s capital, Freetown, are separated by Sierra Leone River.
“From the airport, visitors need to travel via water taxis, ferry, speedboat or hovercraft. Many flights come in late, which can require people to stay in Lungi for the night,” said Abe-Osagie .She added:”We are seeing an increase in airlines coming in, which also makes it more appropriate to get a new airport, and this is currently under negotiation with the government.”