Did you hear that Africa is making great improvements in opening its borders? Do you know that Airlink and Safair have announced they are planning a merger? And that Delta has rescheduled its Accra flights?
From airline news to hotel outlooks and visa changes, we’ve rounded up some of the most exciting events in Africa Tourism News this week…
Africa is opening its borders
In the past year, over a third of African countries have introduced more liberal visa policies and four countries have even moved up into the top 20 most open visa countries in the world.
Oz Desai, GM for Corporate Traveller South Africa, says it’s encouraging to see that in November alone, we saw the Central African Economic and Monetary Community (CEMAC) reach a key milestone agreement making travel within the six-member regional block, comprising Cameroon, Equatorial Guinea, Central African Republic, Congo-Brazzaville, Gabon and Chad, visa free and integration of central Africa a reality.
“While many parts of the world are faced with conversations around closing borders, the opposite end of these conversations seems to be taking place in Africa, which is a region that is renowned for its lack of visa openness. The continent could enjoy immense growth if barriers to travel and trade, like visa requirements, were removed,” says Desai.
While Desai admits it is becoming easier to travel within the continent, he believes it should be even easier.
“The African Union’s 2063 deadline for all countries in Africa to allow for visa-free travel is still a long way away and Africa cannot afford to wait five decades for the same benefits that a frontier-free Europe enjoys.”
Ultimately, the more open the visa regime in Africa, the easier it will be to do business more quickly and affordably.
Airlink and Safair announce merger plans
South African based Airlink and Safair have announced that they have applied to South Africa’s Competition Commission for approval to unite under the common umbrella of the Airlink group of companies.
The proposal sees the Airlink and low-cost FlySafair airlines and Safair’s other businesses, including humanitarian aid flights, continuing to operate separately under their unique brands.
Delta reschedules Accra flights
In an effort to offer more services and improved connection times for passengers on its Accra-New York JFK route, Delta has announced it will implement a schedule change on the route effective 26 March, 2018.
A statement issued by the airline said that all flights would move to night departures to allow the customers to have a full day in Ghana; and the United States on either side of their journeys. Delta also said that it would increase its Accra-New York operation from 1600 to 1700 flights per week starting 31 May through 31 August, next year. All flights will be operated with a B767-400ER, offering a total of 245 seats.
“This addition would mean that Delta would offer 1,225 seats every week from Accra to the ‘Big Apple’ during the peak summer travel period,” said Dwight James, Delta’s Senior Vice President Transatlantic.
Starting in March, flights are scheduled to depart from Accra at 22h00, arriving in New York-JFK at 05h17. From New York, flights will depart at 23h43, arriving in Accra the next day 13h35.
Demand for international hotels outstrips supply in Africa
In Africa, the demand for international-standard hotel rooms currently far outstrips supply, according to a report in Skift.
Nine countries in Africa have no branded hotels at all, a further eight have just a single chain hotel, and nearly half the countries on the continent have two or fewer international brands to offer.
That is why the world’s leading hotel brands are engaged in a 21st-century scramble for Africa. Across the continent more than 417 hotels are in the development pipeline, adding upwards of 72,000 rooms to hotel inventory from Lagos to Cape Town.
Those figures come from the 2017 Hotel Chain Development Pipelines in Africa report, an annual publication by the respected W Hospitality Group.
Marriott International plans to have 200 hotels and 37,000 rooms open or in the pipeline by 2022 while Hilton has committed $50 million over five years to convert around 100 properties – roughly 20,000 rooms – across Africa into Hilton-branded properties. Carlson Rezidor wants to have 125 hotels in Africa by the end of 2022.