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African tourism, air travel to exceed pre-pandemic numbers in 2024

AFRICAN airlines are on track to surpass their pre-pandemic passenger traffic levels for the first time, as tourism also makes a full comeback.

PENT-UP demand for travel is expected to fuel the full recovery of Africa’s aviation and tourism sectors, with both inbound and outbound travel showing impressive performance, according to recent air travel research.

Tourists, long confined by the constraints of the pandemic and with vacation savings, will make up the bulk of visitors to the continent.

This surge in demand is expected to not only resuscitate the aviation sector but also propel the tourism industry to new heights. Egypt, Kenya and South Africa are expected to witness the biggest rebound.

International Air Transport Association (IATA) figures show that in 2023, the global international traffic including in Africa climbed 41.6% versus 2022 and reached 88.6% of 2019 levels.

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“December 2023 international traffic climbed 24.2% over December 2022, reaching 94.7% of the level in December 2019,” it said on Friday (February 2), ” teeing up airlines for a return to normal growth patterns in 2024.”

“The restoration of connectivity is powering the global economy as people travel to do business, further their educations, take hard-earned vacations and much more,” it said.

Some 4.7 billion people are expected to travel in 2024, a historic high that exceeds the pre-pandemic level of 4.5 billion recorded in 2019, according to Iata.

German research platform Statista estimates show that revenue in the Travel and Tourism market in Africa will reach US$24.42 billion this year.

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“Revenue is expected to show an annual growth rate (CAGR 2024-2028) of 4.98%, resulting in a projected market volume of US$29.66 billion by 2028. The largest Travel and Tourism market is the Hotels market with a projected market volume of US$12.10 billion in 2024,” said the global business data platform.

While the continent’s 2024 traffic recovery was expected to be led by Northern and Eastern Africa, which achieved over 103% and 102% of 2019 levels, respectively, in 2023, traffic in Southern Africa remained below pre-crisis levels and it only expected to fully recover in 2024.

Some of Africa’s largest carriers, like Egyptair, Ethiopian Airlines, and TAAG Angola Airlines, have already made headlines this year with significant aircraft orders. Other carriers took delivery of new aircraft from orders placed over the last few years.

Graphics: Hope Mukami

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By SETH ONYANGO, BIRD STORY AGENCY

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