As interest in tourism continue to increase around the world, so does the revenue generated from the travel industry. Countries around the world are making hundreds of billions of dollars every year from tourism. Others rely heavily on tourism for a substantial part of government revenue. Much of what comes from tourism goes to businesses and citizens of the benefiting country.
Africa’s tourist industry is also witnessing a boom. It is now the second-fastest-growing tourist industry worldwide. Travel to Africa is becoming easier and cheaper, and several African governments are adopting measures to strengthen the travel industry.
In this article, we will discuss some facts about the nature of Africa’s travel industry and how you as a citizen can benefit financially by offering services to tourists.
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Facts About Africa’s Travel Industry
Travel and tourism is now a major contributor to the African economy. Tourism accounts for 8.1% of GDP – that is some $194.2 billion a year is spent on the continent by tourists. This statistic was compiled in 2018 when the tourism industry was growing a rate of 5.6% second only to Asia Pacific. The results came from a study conducted by one of Africa’s e-commerce giant, Jumia. The study was conducted across 40 African countries. This study highlighted a great deal of interesting stats on the tourism industry in Africa. Let’s glean some of the info to serve as an encouragement for potential investors.
Marking a 7% increase in numbers from the previous year, about 67 million tourists visited Africa in 2018. From the quaint vineyard of Cape to the souks of Marrakech, countries that saw the highest number of tourists were Morocco and South Africa, with some 10 million and 11 million arrivals a year respectively.
Less stringent visa requirements for Ethiopia coupled with improved transport system helped grow the tourist industry by a staggering 48.6% in 2018, which earned the country a total of $7.4 billion. Similar countries in Africa have very friendly visa requirements, particularly for visitors from Africa. The majority of foreign tourists were holidaymakers who spent mostly on leisure activities.
The African tourist industry makes more money from local tourists. The World Travel & Tourism Council reports that domestic tourism contributes 56% of Africa’s revenue from tourism. This is despite the fact that Africa’s tourism adverts are targeted at foreign tourists. Rwanda, Kenya, Mozambique, Tanzania, Ivory Coast, and others are a good example of countries witnessing an increase in domestic tourism. The local travelers in Africa spend less than their foreign counterparts per person. But due to their high numbers, the combined expenditure outstrips that for foreign tourists. It appears that the middle-class travel more and the boom in mobile smartphone ownership tends to positively affect the travel industry. Low-cost airlines and an abundance of cheap hotel rooms across the continent are also a key factor.
Social media and other service websites are also contributing to making tourism more interesting and easier. Users engage with social networking websites research trips and make travel plans. They also share their experiences of a hotel, airline, or city to make others get a feel of how touring such countries are like.
African governments can go a long way to influence tourism in their respective countries. measures like improving infrastructure, safety, and reducing taxes on owners of properties who render tourism-related services.
So the big question now. How do you make huge money from the great opportunities that tourism offers?
Making Money from Tourism in Africa
Making money from tourism requires creativity, research, and in some cases, huge capital. You need to first determine which category of tourists you are targeting. Is your service aimed at foreign or domestic tourists? This is going to be some market research.
Just like with every other kind of business service, you need to offer some value to the real people in need at a competitive cost. This is the only way you can make big money from the tourism industry. You can offer services like accommodation, recreational service centers, translators, trip planners, drivers, guides, and even bodyguards. Other services can be cooking, laundry, house-cleaning, pet walking, and a host of others. what matters is how organized you are and your ability to reach the target market.
This is the most lucrative of all the tourism services you can think of. When people travel, they don’t move along with their houses. But they want to live in a house that is of similar or better quality to theirs. Depending on what class of tourists, you target, your hotel must be fitted with the appropriate facilities. For example, if your hotel is meant to accommodate European tourists, then you need to make it to their standard, with good ACs, a clean environment, some European food and drinks, and a host of other items that are typical of a European hotel. That goes for American and Asian tourists too.
If your hotel is poorly fitted and the customer service or food is terrible, you are definitely going to lose customers who will not only leave without competing for their stay but also leave negative feedback about your hotel to warn other visitors. And by not satisfying tourists, you are also giving the country and city a bad reputation.
Your hotel should also be located in tourist cities and preferably near places that tourists regularly visit, especially places like natural parks, museums, monuments, and others that have been very popular with both local and foreign populations. A hotel located too far from tourist attraction centers will see fewer visitors than those located close by even if the hotel is of a higher standard or cheaper.
You must launch advertising campaigns and even public stunts that will make your hotel well-known within the city or town. When tourists visit an area, they ask the locals, like taxi drivers, about the best hotels for them. Unless they have pre-arranged their visit with a travel agent who takes care of such issues. Taxi drivers will usually recommend a hotel based on the class preferred by the tourist. And the tourists will normally agree with the recommendation. So offering some incentives to taxi drivers who refer and bring clients to your hotel is a good idea.
Offer Rental Services
Some tourists prefer to rent cars or motorcycle in order to save on transport or just for the fun of it. If the environment is conducive for rentals business (like where there aren’t many car or motorcycle theft, and the demand is high), you can start a rental service. It is possible to rent other equipment like large TV sets, refrigerators, and so on to tourists who prefer renting a room to save on hotel costs, but want all these home appliances without having to buy them.
The biggest challenge with all of these tourism services is how to get known. You may have to engage in some aggressive marketing or even domestic reputation building in order to reach the target market. On top of this, your service must be professional, with good customer support.
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Translation, Taxi, Cooking, and Cleaning Services
Most or even all tourists consult some online sources before traveling to any country or city for the first time. They do so out of a sense of security and safety. Some major problems that tourists face are how to communicate with the local population in order to learn their culture, attitude, and values. The best way to do that is to understand the language of such people. unfortunately, we cannot learn the language or accent of every country or city we visit. We almost always need the services of a translator.
You can offer translation services by running your own website or blog, or by signing up with one such website, or teaming up with a local organization. You must be able to understand the language of both the tourist and the local population in order to excel in your job.
Similarly, a most tourist would want to experience the type of food a people live on. But they are often not able to prepare such food themselves. You can offer to cook for them or teach them how to do it. If you know some great places where tourists frequent, it can pay to set up such services and advertising it to them. You may run both online and local advertising campaigns and prepare to hire some more capable hands when your business starts to grow.
You can earn a good sum of money running a taxi company or being a taxi driver for tourists. You also need to set up a website and try to reach prospective clients before they even travel. People who need such services are almost certain to first make an online search before traveling or as soon as they arrive. Doing your SEO well will see you gain a good slice of web traffic that comes from such searches.
In conclusion, business ideas are as innovative as they are diverse. Observing a market or industry carefully will often reveal a niche that you can fill. The way to go about it is to look for a problem that tourists usually have visiting an area, and then provide a satisfactory solution to it. The money will start flowing in, especially if no other person or business offers such a solution.