Egypt, South Africa, Morocco: Africa’s most popular destinations In 2022

By Nelly Fualdes
Posted on Friday, 30 December 2022 10:58, updated on Monday, 2 January 2023 11:35

Tourists take a photo in front of an installation by the artist SpY at Egypt's Giza on 22 October 2022. © Khaled Desouki/AFP

Despite being badly hit by Covid-19’s arrival in 2020, African tourism is rebounding two years later.

Tourism throughout West Africa has been on the rise, and air ticket reservations for the first quarter of 2023 confirm recent trends, according to ForwardKeys, an airline web traffic data analysis firm.

According to an early December report focusing on West and Central Africa, First Quarter of 2023 air ticket reservations to West Africa were 25% higher than in the first quarter of 2019.

While countries like Nigeria (+19%), Ghana (+7%), and Senegal (+2%) were the three most popular travel destinations throughout the region, Côte d’Ivoire (+41%) emerged with a good deal of progress, sitting comfortably in 5th place behind Cabo Verde.

“These numbers are spurred on by many wishing to visit family and friends,” explained Olivier Ponti, Vice President of Strategy at ForwardKeys. “The diaspora was the first to return as soon as Covid-19 restrictions were lifted,” he continued. But other factors came into play.

Rebound travel

Nigeria, already one of the continent’s leaders in population density and population, has been a major supplier of tourists and a beneficiary of increased oil prices. Ghana, thanks to the increase in air travel connections with the United States, is also succeeding in this regard.

As of today, Delta Air Lines connects Kotoka International Airport to JFK (New York) and United Airlines connects Accra to Washington-Dulles (Washington DC) via three weekly flights.

Tourism throughout Africa has maintained a certain air of resiliency in 2022. According to another ForwardKeys study, this time focusing on the most popular destinations over a 12-month period, international continental arrivals associated with the Middle East only fell by 26%, an impressive feat relative to the rest of the world’s 45% average.

“In addition,” Ponti elaborated, “we are witnessing a rebound travel movement, suggesting that the recovery is even stronger than the economic impact data suggests. Frustrated after two empty years of restrictions, travellers have extended the length of their stay, spending more in the process.”

As it concerns destination countries, the continent’s leaders have remained intact. Egypt (-15%, relative to 2019), South Africa (-52%), and Morocco (-37%) have maintained tourism supremacy, despite losses.

Morocco, which, according to the World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO), had welcomed nearly 13 million travellers in 2019, was hurt by the delayed lifting of restrictions. What cannot be denied is its growth, which, upon factoring in all methods of transport (especially high ferry activity by Moroccans abroad), puts the kingdom ahead of South Africa.

The decline of Carthage…again

Egypt, now boasting a completely modernised and reinforced airway network, sits firmly at 9th overall throughout the world. However, compared to 2019, the ancient country suffered a 15% drop in arrivals by air when it received 17.026 million tourists, according to the UNWTO.

Tanzania, which had welcomed just over 1.5 million foreign tourists in 2019, grew by 2% in 2022, thanks in particular to an improved connection with Europe.

On the other hand, Tunisia, with 9.4 million tourists in 2019, experienced a collapse in international arrival, declining by 57% in 2022.

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