I was asked recently by Katherine Graham to offer my thoughts on Investing in African Travel as she compiled an article for kulula’s khuluma Inflight magazine This is her feature and all the reasons why it is Africa’s time to shine, with my modest contribution included under Travel.
What is the value of travel to African economies including South Africa?
Tourism is big business. According to the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC), travel and tourism is said to have contributed R412.2 billion to South Africa’s GDP in 2017, supporting 2.5 million jobs, or 13.2% of total employment. By 2027 international tourist arrivals to South Africa are forecast to total 19 million, with an expected expenditure of R271.3bn for the country, making it a sector of the economy that not only requires nurturing but also adds happiness to the nation. It is not only South Africa that is relying on the financial value of travel and tourism industry, other African countries such as Botswana, Tanzania, Morocco, Egypt and Seychelles also thrive on it.
What makes Africa such a unique travel destination?
The appeal of Africa lies in her diversity, beautiful landscapes and rich cultural heritage. Whatever you seek from your travel experience, you will find it here, be it tucked away on the hilltops or in the vibrant metropolises that are home to a modern mix of African culture and the tradition, emerging fashion and inspiring entrepreneurs.
Or many though Africa is synonymous with a safari – and no it’s not a country – with Botswana’s home to the largest elephant population in the world, the Masai Mara the most famous safari destination of all, Namibia’s barren deserts best known for elusive Springbok and Gemsbok. The rainforests in Uganda, Rwanda and the DRC are home to the protected gorillas and Madagascar pure delight for any naturalist. Then there is North Africa and the biblical landscapes and Arabian deserts that smack of Lawrence of Arabia romance.
If you could spend R10 000, R100 000 or R1 million on an African holiday, where’d you go?
With R10 000 I’d book a fabulous weekend in a luxury self-catering apartment at the V&A Waterfront, enjoy breakfast at a different place each morning and divide my time between the Zeitz MOCAA, a visit to the Two Oceans Aquarium to learn about their conservation efforts, shopping for local artisan goods at the Watershed, taking high tea at the One&Only and hitting the Radisson Red rooftop bar for sundowners as the light softens over Table Mountain – ideally with one of their resident dogs on my lap.
With R100 000. If I could be so lucky, I’d book a fully guided safari in Tanzania to witness the great migration or thundering hooves, as it is better known, on the plains of the Serengeti. One of the most impressive natural phenomena to witness, this is the annual arrival of thousands of wildebeest and zebra into the area. Time in a mobile camp such as AndBeyond Serengeti Under Canvas will ensure best sightings, followed by a couple of treat nights at Ngorongoro Crater Lodge with its views across the reserve.
All those game drives are hard work, and I’d need to end with some relaxation. Dusting off the khaki, I’d hop on a plane – because I can – to arrive in Chumbe Island Coral Park off Zanzibar, a private eco-friendly lodge, where sun and time in the warm Indian Ocean will be the only focus. Plus cocktails.
With R1 million. Imagine having R1 million to plan a dream African adventure. To ensure it was dripping in style, I‘d board Rovos Rail in Cape Town for their 15-day train journey through South Africa, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Zambia and Tanzania. This is one of the most famous train trips in the world and includes safaris, bush walks, and a vision of timeless Africa. Arriving in Dar es Salaam all loved up by the adventure, on arrival in Dar es Salaam, I’d be whisked away by private charter to Rwanda’s Volcanoes National Park where the focus of my stay would be gorilla trekking, something that has to top every travel wish list.
When my heart is sated and I’m ready to move on, it will be to Ethiopia to do the best of their historic Northern route, including Lalibela and an excursion into the Simien Mountains to seek out the elusive Ethiopian wolf. Of course, I’d have an expert guide and tracker, conservationist and hero among men -women, at my side.
From there my pilot would fly me the width of Africa to Morocco, where I’d indulge in evocative days reminiscent to those once enjoyed by Yves Saint Laurent, staying at his Villa in Marrakech and spending time in his newly opened museum and Jardin Majorelle, which I’d obviously have to myself. My trip would conclude with time enjoyed in the Atlas Mountains where I’d linger at Sir Richard Branson’s Kasbah Tamadot, best known for its architecture and antique Arabian furniture. There will be hot air ballooning to take in the vistas.
Ideally, I’d like the whole experience to be narrated by David Attenborough, so I’d need to have him there too. Any money left over I’d use to tip everybody I met – lavishly.