Traveler spending in Africa could increase by 27% over the next year if visas were easier to obtain: Report

A traveler at an airport/ tourism
A traveler at an airport. PHOTO/COURTESY:

Spending among African travelers could increase significantly over the next year if they were able to obtain visas and move more freely within the continent, new research from Sabre Corporation has revealed.

The report collected responses from more than 5,000 people across Kenya, Nigeria and South Africa. The respondents were asked whether they had travelled by plane in the past 24 months, to which 26 percent said they had compared to 24 percent in a similar 2016 report. However, those that did travel cited various barriers such as difficulties in obtaining visas, air travel being expensive, flight delays and queues at the airport as factors that were preventing them from travelling more often. 

According to the report, the respondents interviewed would be willing to spend 27 percent more on air travel if they could travel visa-free throughout the continent – with most respondents saying they would take 2-3 trips per year compared with the 1-2 they currently take. 

“It is encouraging to see that a greater number of people have been able to access air travel over the past three years. However, our research shows that there is still a long way to go to make travel affordable and accessible. The majority of our respondents’ said barriers to travel are within an airline’s control, and investing in the latest technology can significantly improve the whole flight experience – from booking to the day of travel,” Dino Gelmetti, Sabre Corporations Vice President Sales, Middle East and Africa said in a statement.

“Overcoming the cost constraint is a major challenge, but all indications are that if airlines were able to reduce flight costs by optimising operations, routes and pricing, far more African people would take advantage of the opportunity to travel by air,” Mr. Gelmetti added.

Mr. Gelmetti however insisted that African countries need to make more progress on visa regimes in order to enable persons to move more freely within the continent and capitalize on gains from regional integration initiatives such as the African Continental Free Trade Area.

The report comes on the back of an earlier report released by African Development Bank which revealed that Africans travelers no longer need a visa to travel to a quarter of other African countries, whereas visa-free travel was only possible to a fifth of the continent in 2016.

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