Overall international air travel to Africa has grown 5.6 percent this year through August compared to the same period last year, but North Africa has seen slow growth or even decline — people are scared to travel there — while East Africa has seen double-digit growth.
Algeria, Egypt, Morocco and Tunisia have seen little growth, ETurbo News reported. However, despite the weak growth,”North African countries still made it into the top 10 destinations in terms of volume of traffic but they have suffered from political instability and terror activities in the region,” said Olivier Jager, CEO of ForwardKeys.
Based in Spain, ForwardKeys focuses on big data and business intelligence for the travel industry, predicting future travel patterns by analyzing 14 million booking transactions a day.
Among the worst-hit are Egypt and Tunisia, CNN reported. Visitor numbers peaked above 14 million in 2010 but sank to around 9 million in 2015 following aviation disasters and turmoil following the 2011 Arab Spring, according to the U.N. World Tourism Organization. Numbers are expected to suffer as well in 2016.
Tunisia saw a 20 percent drop in international visitor arrivals in the first quarter of 2016 following terrorist attacks that targeting tourists. ISIS claimed responsibility.
Tourism tends to take up to two years to recover after terrorists attack tourists, according to David Scowsill, CEO of the World Travel & Tourism Council, CNN reported.
“People will come to Tunisia again… but right now (the country is) having a very tough time and people are losing their jobs,” said Scowsill.
Airline capacity to Tunisia was cut by 26 percent for the summer, according to ForwardKeys.
South Africa is the largest destination for international air traffic to Africa with 13 percent. Egypt is next with 9 percent, Morocco with 8 percent, Mauritius with 5 percent, Kenya, Algeria and Tunisia with 4 percent, Tanzania and Ethiopia with 3 percent and Nigeria with 2 percent.
Nigeria’s small share of the market was further threatened this week when the country’s Arik Airline shut down operations. Fuel suppliers and insurers withdraw services for lack of payment, leaving hundreds of air travelers booked on Nigerian Arik Airline stranded across the country, according to Sahara Reporters.
Arik has massive debts to major oil marketers, the report said. Arik is the third airline to shut down flight operations in Nigeria in the last three weeks.
Europe is the No. 1 market of origin for air travelers to Africa, with 46.1 percent of air traffic — up 2.5 percent this year. Other origin markets have shown much stronger growth. The Americas are up 12.7 percent, Asia Pacific up 12.4 percent, the Middle East up 9.6 percent and travel within Africa is up 5.4 percent, according to ETurbo News.
The rest of 2016 looks highly encouraging. International bookings for travel to Africa as a whole through December are up 11.1 percent compared to this time last year. Europe, with more than 60 percent of forward bookings is ahead 11.3 percent. Asia Pacific is ahead 14.3 percent, the Americas are ahead 12.5 percent, the Middle East 6 percent and travel within Africa is ahead 9.4 percent.
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