June 6, more than three hundred representatives of African travel agencies were received by the tourist office in Dubai, for a six-day visit of the infrastructure and sites of the city. “This trip was twofold , explained the director of the tourism corporation . Show that Dubai is a destination of choice for the largest continents in the world, and it is also a city where you can stay all year. “
The emirate attracted Africans , but is it as far their favorite holiday destination? Hard to say, especially since most of the inhabitants of the continent, whether urban or rural, usually take advantage of periods of leave to return to the village, or just stay home. “Going on vacation or away near his workplace is still a strong tradition within the African middle class “ , says Isaiah Dougnon, a researcher at the University of Bamako.
Kenyan children enjoy the holidays for skateboarding in the park Shangilia in Nairobi. Fredrick Lerneryd / AFP
It is even more uncommon to see whole families to travel. “It is often the children who leave , says François, a student in Cotonou, Benin. But it is a holiday of two weeks at most.” In Africa West, private schools organize summer camps in the sub-region of the economic Community of West African States (Ecowas). “Parents averages resources are more rewarding to send children on holiday that do from all the family “ , says Isaiah Dougnon.
In the Maghreb, families go more willingly family. In Algeria, for example, vacationers will rather from the side of Tunisia, its direct neighbor and with which relations are quite friendly, unlike Morocco. “The prices are not very high, the language is the same and there is not too much paperwork says said Khammar, a computer engineer who has worked in the field of tourism.But the rich will choose destinations where they do not need a visa, such as Malaysia . “
In Ivory Coast, the favorite destination remains France, and Paris in particular, which represents 55% of the tickets sold by the agency Africvoyages Abidjan, despite the difficulty in obtaining a visa . On the continent, Morocco is the first tourist destination for Abidjan, with 5% of the tickets, closely followed by Senegal (4.7%) and Togo (3.3%).
The Morocco prides itself on welcoming annually 200,000 mainland tourists, among them 45,000 Senegalese, according to the National Tourism Office . A figure that could double over the next three years. The Kingdom of Morocco is also the first tourist destination … Moroccans, according to the 360 , who notes that in 2013, 53% of people spent their summer vacation in the country, especially in Marrakech, after the month of Ramadan . Other travel primarily in Turkey or Spain.
“An internal tourism promotion policy”
Beyond the cliché, the African middle classes so well on vacation leave. “We must distinguish three types of travel: domestic, continental and to other continents,” says Dr. Maylis Chauvin, geographer and researcher associated LAM-CNRS . We note for example in East Africa increased from ten years of domestic trips to national parks and coastline. Also in Senegal, where the beach of Ngor has become “a recreation area, exhibition of bodies, bathing, while it’s use is almost nonexistent in other countries in West Africa” , by Saskia Cousin, anthropologist and teacher conference at the University Paris-Descartes. “There is a real domestic tourism promotion policy in Africa , says Isaiah Dougnon. Holiday camps are designed in part to promote this taste for travel among African youth and they were not the only want to go in Europe. “
The crowd on the beach of Ngor, Dakar (Senegal) on the last Sunday of Ramadan. Saskia Cousin
“Note also the link between travel and tourism diasporic space adds Dr. Chauvin. Some residents of the countries of East Africa will tend to visit members of their families in northern Europe, mainly the England or the Scandinavian countries like Sweden. “ Some African countries are also counting on a return to the country of emigrants, particularly through the commemoration of slavery . This is the case of former slave ports of Ouidah (Benin) and Bimbia (Cameroon) or of Goree Island, Senegal.
“We can not set a trend, but there are structural elements”
Sometimes African tourism is very local, and economic. South Africa every year several million African visitors, the vast majority of countries in the SADC (Southern African Development Community), such as Swaziland and Mozambique. But xenophobia that has gripped the country has led to a wave of concern among these countries. Mozambique has decided to boycott the 2015 Tourism Indaba, an international event held in Durban.
“We can not set a trend on the continent , concludes Dr. Chauvin. But there are some structural elements.” Thus, the trips are not only domestic, and may be related to secondary objectives, such as trips business. “the African elite the opportunity to do a little tourism in countries where the meetings take place , says Prof. Dougnon. the Mali for example, was, in this respect, a good destination before the 2012 crisis,” de Similarly, business travel in Asia allow to combine business with pleasure: “Many people travel in China, Singapore, Hong Kong or Dubai to buy and import products, and India for care, and take the opportunity to visit “ explains Dr. Chauvin.
African tourism he has really booming? Yes, even if it does not have much impact on Africa itself, according to Professor Dougnon: “Many African countries still rely on foreign tourists (European, Japanese and American).” Blame it on revenue still too weak and unstable political situations in many African countries, which prevent to see tourists waves came from other African countries
Besides the continent is still struggling to attract those who made their living in Europe or America.
“One of the challenges of development of African tourism in Africa through the provision of leisure for migrants and African expatriates who return home for the holidays, and whose children are no longer content of family visits” , says Saskia Cousin.
Source: Slate Africa