Black Travel movement
The black travel movement which was first noted in 2014 is the growing brand of travel agents and social media networks that celebrate and promote global traveling by black people. Online communities such as the Black Travel movement enable black people to share their travel experiences and arranges travel community packages. The African context of the black travel movement sees the emergence of young black people encourage their peers to not only travel but to explore Africa. The promotion of intra-African travel is no longer activated by just government officials, instead black millennial Africans are recreating the narrative of intra-African travel through their experiences and businesses. While African governments work to create simpler channels, which enhance intra African travel.
‘Over the past 10 years, intra African tourism grew from 34% to 44% of the total number of tourists in Africa’
Mukhisa Kituyi – UNCTAD’s secretary general
In 2017 the International Air Transport Association (IATA) reported that the global tourism sector is expected to cater to 7.8 billion passengers by 2036. The African continent is expected to see a growth of 5.9% by 2036, Africa will see an extra 274 million passengers a year of the total market of 400 million passengers. The potential growth within the African tourism sector sees governments and social active movements such as Black travel open up further prospects in the Intra- African travel sector.
African airlines are playing their part as drivers for pan African travel. The leading airline which is also referred to as the fastest growing airline in Africa is the Ethiopian Airline. The airline aims to establish efficient intra- African networks through their strategy known as Vision 2025. This will be achieved through the creation of airport hubs in Southern and Central Africa as well as the Horn of Africa. Thus far the airline has a successful hub in Togo also known as Asky Airline in which it holds 40% share. The airline also has a hub with the Malawian airline Lilongwe. The Central African hub will cover the DRC, Congo, Brazzaville and Chad.
The International Air Transport Association report states that airline passenger’s numbers in Africa are expected to increase by more than double the current state in less than 20 years. With this we see the incentives to enhance the growth of intra-African travel by the African Union. After much planning, the AU launched the Single African Transport market in January 2018. The aim for the market is to enable efficient, profitable travel of goods and people through African countries. This is in line with the AU’s Pan-African 2063 agenda flagship project which is directed to improve air connectivity in Africa among other plans.
African governments have also taken the lead in easing visa regulations for African travelers. In 2016 the World Bank reported that restrictive regulations that hinder Intra-African travel lead to African airlines losing US $800 million. While orgainsations such as the Central African Economic and Monetary community the six-member regional bloc now allows for visa free travel for Africans. The countries which formulate the regional bloc are: Chad, Cameroon, Gabon, Equatorial Guinea, Central African Republic and Congo. While Kenya and Nigeria provide visas on arrival. More and more African countries are opening up their boarders for African travelers.
The notion of African travel has received an additional layer to the traditional safari express. There is an emergence of black owned travel agencies targeting young black travelers while also providing more than the typical safari drive getaway. South African black owned agencies such as Lebo’s Soweto and Soul Traveller provide an immersed travel experience that cover urban culture and nature tours. Travel Noire selects curators from the African diaspora to share their experiences of their African travels on the platform. The company also offers travel packages to various African cities. Some travel agencies find themselves falling into catering to an underserved demographic as seen with the founder of Tastemaker Africa Cherae Robinson. Who found that 93% of her customers looking for travel experiences in Africa were black. The travel agency’s marketing has since become more representative of the black traveler as they also aim to enhance intra- African travel among young black people.
‘We’ve tapped into a wave of Africans wanting to see a different representation of themselves’
Cherae Robinson- African Tastemaker
Nigerian start up Hotels.ng is a continental hotel booking platform which lists a variety of hotels in Africa for the average income consumer. The company lists hotels that could be seen as affordable for Africans that desire to travel the continent on a limited budget. The company noted that most online platforms provide hotel options directed to the international tourism sector. Thus far the company has 10 000 hotels in more than 300 cities. Hotels.ng plans to partner with Nigerian travel agency Travel Start to launch a flight booking platform which will provide more ‘localized’ options and make it easier to book flights across the continent.
African social media influencers are bringing a youthful spin to the image of travelling. Online pages such as Tastemakers Africa, Hip Africa and Visiter L’Afrique provide visuals of African travels from an African perspective. While travelers such as Fikile Hlatshwayo have brought a different spin to the #blacktravel movement. In 2014 Hlatshwayo and her family packed their bags in pursuit to explore South Africa via caravan. After visiting 60 caravan parks covering all 9 provinces in South Africa, Fikile came back with the aim to write a book titled ‘Blacks do Caravan’. The creation of the books aims to encourage black people to start traveling.
Jessica Nabongo will become the first black woman and Ugandan to travel all 195 UN membered countries. With her deadline for the 15th May 2019, Nabongo shares her travel experiences on instagram with the aim to be an example to black woman and fellow Africans. With an American and African passport, Nabongo aims to promote the idea of African tourists by frequently using her Ugandan passport.