As tourism numbers in the African continent continues to surge beating the pre-pandemic era, seven African countries of South Africa, Egypt, Ghana, Tunisia, Ethiopia, Tanzania and Kenya have been listed as the top destinations for tourists to visit in 2023 by travel of path.
According to traveloffpath.com, the most underrated continent in the world, Africa, is experiencing a much-needed surge in demand for 2023. Numerous countries, both North and South of the Sahara, are breaking tourism records as crowd-wary tourists look to escape the overtourism and inflated prices plaguing the Western World, but 7, in particular, are ranked the best for both culture and incredible sights:
Tourism In Africa Is Recovering Faster Than The Global Average
As reported by Quartz, after two years of a COVID-induced retraction, Africa has recovered 65% of its pre-pandemic tourism, with visitor numbers more than doubling between 2021 and 2022 and set for further increases in the months ahead. Between January and December 2022, 45 million travelers landed in the continent, against only 19.4 million in the preceding year.
Corroborating these findings, World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) leaders have stated Africa’s strong rebound and return to the global stage as a powerful tourist destination is attributed to a ‘large pent-up demand and the easing of travel restrictions’. As of January 2023, more than 140 countries have lifted their health-related entry requirements, including 22 in Africa.
Furthermore, other research carried out by web traffic data firm ForwardKeys concluded that Africa’s international visitor numbers recovered much faster than the global average in the last quarter of 2022, being only 19% below pre-pandemic levels, as opposed to the global 30%.
Africa is super trendy right now, and if you’re looking for truly unique experiences, this is where you should be headed:
If you want to kick off your Grand Tour of Africa but are still unsure where to start, Kenya should be at the top of the list: ticking all the boxes on the ‘Stereotypically African’ category, it offers a vibrant city break in Nairobi, wildlife sightings in the Maasai Mara Reserve, and of course, a dramatic natural backdrop replete with savannahs and spectacular lakes.
1.32 million tourists landed in Kenya throughout 2022, at an annual growth of 74.5%. 2023 could be even bigger now that port infrastructure has been strengthened and cruise ships started returning. The Kenya Tourism Board hopes that the enhanced experience at the Kenyan Coast and other hinterland parts will help ‘accommodate global visitors of diverse interests and tastes’.
Straddling the Indian Ocean and encompassing the impossibly vast Kilimanjaro National Park, which includes Africa’s highest peak and remote safari routes, the lesser-known coastal gem of Tanzania is highly sought-after by beachgoers and thrill-seekers alike. In 2022 alone, it hosted 1.2 million foreign arrivals, only 300,000 fewer than pre-COVID 2019.
They are mostly drawn to the nation’s untarnished wilderness, though Tanzania’s relevance as a cultural hub is being acknowledged lately as well, thanks to the promotion of its UNESCO World Heritage Sites, especially the off-shore Stone Town of Zanzibar, a complex maze of whitewashed buildings dating back to the European colonization of the namesake island.
One of the best-performing destinations in Africa, Ethiopia has grown by 3% compared to the pre-pandemic era, mostly powered by ecotourism. It is one of the most geographically varied nations South of the Sahara, rewarding guests with some unmatched vistas, from jagged terrains and rift valleys to majestic waterfalls and alpine peaks.
To reduce Ethiopia to its natural attractions, however impressive, would be a serious mistake: it is stacked with 12th to 15th-century rock-hewn churches, nestled in the little explored Ethiopian highlands, world-class museums chronicling Ethiopia’s rich past, restaurants serving a wide array of ethnic food just waiting to be discovered in Addis Addaba (the buzzing capital) and friendly locals.
According to easyJet, one of the largest low-cost airlines in Europe, demand for travel to Tunisia has increased the most out of any other country in their catalog since 2019, and it’s not hard to see why. Bordering the Mediterranean Sea, it enjoys the same temperate climate as Italy, Spain, and Greece, with endless miles of sandy beaches and waters that are just as clear, except it’s far cheaper.
Tunisia is between 50% and 65% more affordable than other Medi ports: Americans will spend, on average, 58.5% less than they would in Nice, in France’s Cote d’Azur; when it comes to dining out at mid-range restaurants in downtown Tunis, they can expect to pay 72.4% less than in Barcelona, Spain; finally, long-term rental prices are 61.1% lower than Santorini’s in Greece.
As Gordon Clark, VP of Business Development at ForwardKeys, put it himself, West and Central Africa are benefitting the most from the continent’s newfound popularity, and Ghana specifically has led travel bookings in the American market due to the ‘improved seat capacity’ leaving from the States. In Clark’s view, this has attracted a ‘more premium travel crowd’.
Responding to this trend, local authorities have been building more upscale hotels and investing heavily in the standardization of tourism establishments in order to cater to big spenders and boost the country’s competitiveness. Ghana is simply brimming with unexplored potential, and it’s only a matter of time until its picturesque coast and lush nature reserves make it into mainstream media.
In a league of its own, the tourism powerhouse of Egypt will see arrival numbers jump by 46% in 2023 to roughly 11.6 million, nearing its all-time peak of 13.02 million in 2019. The renewed interest in Ancient History, Nile cruises, and Pharaonic tales followed the North African nation’s reopening in mid-2022 when all health-related entry requirements were revoked.
International visitors are no longer subject to strict health checks traveling to Egypt, and all are welcome irrespective of vaccination status, making it the ideal location for an international getaway. Our top two picks include Cairo, a global city serving as a gateway to the famous Pyramids of Giza, and the resort-packed Hurghada, on the shores of the Red Sea.
1. South Africa
Boasting year-round warm weather, impressive ethnic and cultural diversity, 21 UNESCO-listed monuments, and abundant nature and the scenic coast, South Africa has plenty of wonders and historical value encircled within its immense territory to fill up a weeks-long travel itinerary – and trust us, you’ll never get bored here. The hard part is knowing where to start.