Flight bookings for travel to Africa and the Middle East grew by 10.5 per cent in 2017, with a growth that is also expected to continue in the first quarter of 2018, according to a study by ForwardKeys, the future travel forecast company, which anaylsed about 17 million flight booking transactions a day.
The study also reveals that bookings are currently 11.2 per cent ahead of where they were at this time last year.
The growth in 2017 has come from around the world, with the Americas up 14.1 per cent, Europe up 11.6 per cent and Asia Pacific up 19.0 per cent. It has been caused by three principal trends. First is a recovery from terror attacks that hit North Africa in 2015, second is a wave of changes to visa regulations which have been designed to attract visitors and third is strong growth of a few origin markets, most notably China.
In Africa, impressive growth was recorded by Tunisia, 29 per cent up on the previous year. The country suffered three bad terror attacks in 2015, which decimated its tourism industry. At the end of 2016, European tourists started to trickle back and in July 2017, the United Kingdom government withdrew an advisory against travel to the country. Egypt provided another similar highlight.
The highlights are strong outbound markets, most notably Argentina, from where bookings are 34 per cent ahead of where they were this time last year. Other promising source markets for the Middle East and Africa include Spain 28 per cent ahead, Australia 22 per cent ahead, India and Turkey both 19 per cent ahead and Canada 17 per cent ahead.
“For travel to the Middle East and Africa, both the past year and the outlook for the coming quarter can be summed up in just three words: ‘Double-Digit Growth’. Whilst the continuation of the Qatar diplomatic crisis gives cause for concern; there are more reasons to be optimistic.
From the start of this year, Rwanda is granting all visitors, regardless of their origin, a visa on arrival; Saudi Arabia is about to introduce new e-visas for tourists; flights to Egypt from Russia are due to resume in February and the FIFA World Cup, taking place in Russia this summer, is likely to produce a short-term lift in transit passengers,” said Olivier Jager, CEO, ForwardKeys.