Anne Majumdar

Africa is well and truly back on the tourism map following several challenging years as the result of Ebola and a wave of terror attacks.

Although a 2014 outbreak of the deadly virus mainly impacted countries in West Africa including Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, the entire continent suffered as a result with wary travellers choosing to stay away. Safety concerns were exacerbated by several violent episodes in Kenya, claimed by extremist groups.

However, that chapter seems to have drawn to a close, partly demonstrated by the release of Adventure World’s latest Africa brochure – its largest collection on the continent in more than 35 years.


Neil Rodgers with the new Adventure World Africa brochure

General manager Neil Rodgers told KarryOn the destination has strongly bounced back in the last year, reporting significant growth in sales.

“Last September was the first boom post-Ebola,” he said. “That’s when we saw meteoric rises month on month.”

Although the massive spikes of 70-80%, admittedly off a low-base, have slowed somewhat in the months since, year on year growth remains at around 40%, Rodgers revealed.

“Now with launch of the next Africa collection, it’s hard to forecast because there has been such incredible growth,” he said. “But I cannot see any reason why it would not continue.”


Image credit: Adventure World

Rodgers explained that the tremendous value currently on offer in the destination and the lack of any recent disturbances are seeing safety concerns put on the backburner.

“People have their bucket list destination and they are looking around and seeing that now is actually an exceptionally good time to go to Africa,” he said.

“Africa is a safe destination right now to travel to and it’s exceptionally good value.”

Meanwhile, all the disruptions have brought about a trend towards extremely last minute departures – but Rodgers warned that as the destination gathers momentum once again, this could leave travellers with fewer options.

“Moving forward, one thing we need to do is to educate the market and agents that the Americans, the British and Germans are back so where there was availability in lodges last year, we’re not going to have that again,” he said.


Image credit: Adventure World

Perth-based Africa specialist Wildlife Safari reported a similar trend.

“The past 12 months has revealed travel agents have looked to Africa for many of their clients travels as they discover the incredible value countries such as South Africa offer,” marketing manager Terri Cordin told KarryOn.

South Africa in particular is “booming”, she revealed, with customers looking beyond its traditionally popular wildlife experiences to spend longer in reenergised Johannesburg and cosmopolitan Cape Town.

Overall Australian visitor numbers to South Africa are up 9.7% year on year for the January to June period, according to its national tourism board.

Brightly coloured beach huts in Cape Town, South Africa. Image credit: Shutterstock

Brightly coloured beach huts in Cape Town, South Africa. Image credit: Shutterstock

Although the continent’s rich and diverse wildlife inevitably remains a popular reason to visit.

“Greater confidence in travel to East Africa is taking safari seekers back to Kenya for its spectacular parks and reserves to view immense concentrations of wildlife,” Cordin said.

Kenya has, in fact, reported 20.5% growth in Australian visitors year on year in the first seven months of this year. Between January and July, 7,488 Aussies visited the destination.

The rise is a major boost for the destination which saw tourism plummet following a burst of violent extremist attacks.

Kenya Tourist Board (KTB) representative Bart Druitt said the news indicates a huge step forward for the Kenyan tourism industry.

“We are thrilled with the positive visitor figures and feel there is strong potential for even further growth from the Australian market,” he said.

“Aside from being the home of the original safari with some of the best game viewing in the world, what many Aussies don’t realise is that Kenya also has a unique culture, strong conservation initiatives, incredible adventure activities and a broad range of accommodation options.”

Image credit: Emilie Ristevski

Image credit: Emilie Ristevski

Druitt attributed the strong growth to a number of factors including increased air capacity and a range of new tourism initiatives such as reduced park fees, visa waivers for children under 16 and the introduction of an online visa system.

In addition, the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) lowered its travel advice for Nairobi in June which has helped to further bolster the destination.

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