In recent years, Africa has become one of the most popular destinations among Chinese tourists. For many Chinese, Africa is an isolated and idyllic place, and a trip to Africa is like a pilgrimage in nature. According to statistics from Ctrip, a leading Chinese online travel agency, the number of tourists buying tour packages to Africa has increased by 40 percent year-on-year. The generation born after the 1980s is the largest group, accounting for 30% of consumers traveling to Africa. Egypt, Mauritius, Kenya, Morocco, Tanzania, Tunisia and Ethiopia are among the most popular destinations. “After visiting major destinations in Europe, the Americas and Asia, many Chinese tourists are now looking for less-visited destinations with a new twist,” said Hu Wenyu, Ctrip’s business manager for the Middle East and Africa. “There has been a clear increase in the number of Chinese tourists visiting Africa,” Hu said. In 2017, nearly 69,000 Chinese tourists visited Kenya, making China the country’s fifth largest source in East Africa. South Africa hosted 97,000 Chinese tourists during the same period. According to the Consular website of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, about 20 countries and regions in Africa currently offer visa waiver or visa-on-arrival policies to Chinese nationals. Visa facilitation policies are an important factor in attracting Chinese tourists. In 2017, Morocco and Tunisia welcomed 118,000 and 20,000 Chinese tourists respectively, both up more than 150% year-on-year. More than 100,000 Chinese tourists visited Morocco in the first five months of 2018. According to Qiu Feiming, an experienced travel agent at Ctrip, tourism in Africa peaks between July and October. Most Chinese tourists travel to East and South Africa to witness wildlife and feel close to nature. Kew added that winter is the peak period for North Africa. The warm climate along the southern shores of the Mediterranean Sea, the desert landscape of the Sahara and exotic Arabian charms attract travelers. The tropical islands of Mauritius and Seychelles are the most popular honeymoon destinations.
Kew said the infrastructure for tourism in southern and eastern Africa was satisfactory, but not for wildlife activities. Inadequate supply of water and electricity occurs from time to time. Tourism destinations in Africa are actively improving their infrastructure to meet the needs of Chinese tourists. He added that for example, the performance of safari vehicles is gradually improving. According to Hu, cost and resources are the two main factors limiting the number of Chinese tourists to Africa. With the high cost of tourism development, the average price for an individual traveler is high. And transportation and accommodation may be in short supply during high season. In high season, Chinese-speaking tourist guides are in high demand. Experts note that four out of five local tour guides are employed part-time. Ho said travel to Africa accounts for about 12 percent of Ctrip’s business in the Middle East and Africa. “We have a dedicated team in charge of our activities in Africa and we have explored the potential of the tourism market in Africa and we are currently working on promotional projects in collaboration with African hotels”. Kenya hopes to attract at least 100,000 Chinese tourists every year for the next two years, said Najib Bala, Kenya’s tourism and wildlife cabinet secretary. Bala said the Kenya Tourism Association of Kenya was launched in March 2018 to provide better services to Chinese tourists in Nairobi. Morocco is stepping up its efforts to improve its transport and accommodation infrastructure to increase its capacity to welcome tourists, with a target of an average of 500,000 a year by 2020, a tourism ministry official said. To attract Chinese tourists.