Chinese Tourism to Africa Is Up, but Travel Companies Are Wary

A China in Africa Podcast

Africa is becoming an increasingly popular holiday destination among adventure-seeking Chinese tourists. The number of visitors who went to Africa in 2016 was up sharply due to looser visa restrictions and new direct flights between China and Ethiopia, Kenya, and South Africa, among other popular destinations. Chinese arrivals in South Africa alone were up 93 percent last year.

You’d think this would be great news for Africa’s embattled travel operators, right? After all, Westerners turned away from the continent in large numbers after the Ebola outbreak, terrorism incidents in Kenya, Nigeria, and Tunisia, as well as the ongoing economic uncertainties at home. So a new market of wealthy travelers, this time from China, should be warmly welcomed by all the hotels, safari parks, bus operators, and other travel suppliers whose livelihoods depend on satisfying overseas visitors. Wrong.

In this episode, Kampala-based travel industry consultant Sandra Rwese joins Eric and Cobus to explain why she thinks African travel companies are so reluctant to embrace the new Chinese tourist and how it may already be too late for African companies to effectively compete.