The global pandemic and the recent launch of many black empowerment movements has created opportunities for Africans to rewrite their narrative to the global economy, leveraging the power of technology. As Africans begin to rise into their identity and value, we will begin to see a shift in the way they live and build the African economy. Because no one will build Africa, except Africans.
We believe that travel, movement of people across cities, countries and borders, in this decade will play a key part in establishing our value narrative and revolutionizing the African continent. Furthermore, with the projected growth in the African population, the travel landscape will also grow at a faster rate even as these trends begin to shift the economy in the favor of Africans. This will have tremendous impact and value on Africans as it will ultimately restore African pride, move Africans towards a world where Africans are valued, respected and equally seen as important, and eventually position many African countries high on the global Passport Index.
This article documents 10 trends we can expect to see as African travelers begin to rise into their own from 2022. It should also serve as a guide to highlight opportunities and potentialities available for any African who wants to be a key player in the travel industry and dominate a sector along its value chain.
1. The rise of the conscious African traveler.
Description: A conscious African traveler can be defined as a person of African origin who travels intentionally, having an awareness of the country they are traveling to and knowing how to engage the community appropriately during the trip. They serve as a de-facto ambassador of their culture and heritage when they travel outside their home country, engaging the local communities, always portraying their country in a positive light and helping to dispel the negative perception of Africans as economic liabilities (e.g. illegal immigrants).
We see an example in the story of Yejide Runsewe, the founder of Naija Nomads, who started Naija Nomads after an unforgettable experience in Marrakesh that sparked her desire to change the way Nigerians traveled, and to provide group travel experiences to Nigerians.
What will fuel this: As the world begins to focus more on sustainability in many areas, the way we travel will shift and change dramatically, becoming more responsible and eco-conscious. Travelers will be more mindful of the impact of their travel and trip planning decisions to create a more sustainable environment, and to contribute positively towards a better society both at home and abroad.
2. The rise of value exchange travel among Africans.
Description: Value exchange travel is when travelers visit a destination with intention to add value. This means that at each destination, they are not merely visiting; they are there to make an impact, by contributing their inherent gift and value to the destination. It can range from simply seeking out and patronizing local businesses in the destination, to social impact activities or voluntourism.
An example of this is trained medical professionals traveling to a country outside of their home country, and on the trip engage in activities that allow them contribute their expertise to positively improve the people and the society there.
What will fuel this: Experiential travel as we know it will take on a new meaning especially for Africans. As Africans rise into their identity as conscious travelers and understand the value they can bring and contribute to society, they can now intentionally engage in value-adding activities on their trips. This leads to economic growth as individuals seek first to contribute value rather than just to consume.
3. An increase in Black people — including Africans — traveling for cultural experiences.
Description: Cultural travel experiences are centered around traveling to a destination to experience activities that influence culture such as Music & Entertainment, Arts & Culture. This is where people travel to another destination to go watch a concert of their favorite performing artists or attend a music or film festival, among others.
An example of this is traveling with friends to go watch Wizkid’s Made in Lagos tour in London, which also happened in various countries across the world or Africans in the diaspora attending the annual Calabar Carnival in Nigeria.
What will fuel this: As Africans in the Music & Entertainment, Arts & Culture industry continue to rise in their desire to take global stages, deliver top notch experiences, and to positively impact the world through their gifts and talents, we will see a rise in fellow Africans traveling to support these artists as a way to build camaraderie and promote Africa’s talent. As of today, the black culture experience economy is growing at a rapid rate. We see that music & entertainment, arts & culture will play a big role in shaping the impact that black race will bring to society globally. We see such in the inception of Wakanda in a superhero movie to the showcasing of African artists such as Wizkid and Burna Boy toplining and winning on global platforms.
4. Increased equity in travel for African travelers.
Description: Equity in travel for African travelers means that Africans will now be able to access travel perks and benefits such as loyalty programs, global lounge accesses, discounted travel and accommodation, travel financing, etc that they may have previously felt excluded from.
An example is African owned travel or non travel brands collaborating with companies in the travel and tourism value chain to provide discounts, access and benefits to their customers. For example, Ife Durosinmi-Etti of Herconomy collaborates with brands to provide discounted fees for flights and accommodation to her community. Another recent example is The International Woman Leadership conference, a collaboration between Mrs Ibukun Awosika and Dubai Tourism. Such collaborations will give rise to tourism initiatives that allow the travelers to engage the destination at an inclusive level.
What will fuel this: As African brands and Africans continue to cross collaborate with global and local brands, there will be an increase in the desire to develop and provide products and services that promote increased trust and loyalty, which in turn makes the travel experience much better for African travelers.
5. The rise of online travel education by and for Africans.
Description: Online travel education will bring a new dimension to learning as a whole, as it focuses more on developing competence around a core skill or talent versus broad learning in formal training. This will include coaching and courses dedicated to up-skilling people who are interested in learning more about travel, or developing skills such as travel writing, travel photography, among others.
An example of this is Lola Akinmade Akerstrom, who launched Geotraveler Media Academy, which helps people bring their stories to life through visual storytelling, multimedia, and digital publishing. Another example is Jessica Ufuoma who launched a Travel Training Masterclass, where she teaches people everything they need to master travel, see the world and to feel confident in their travels.
What will fuel this: Triggered by the global pandemic of 2020, online learning has become a predominant method to disseminate information. We have seen a massive increase in online courses and programs centered around personal mastery of disciplines. Likewise, we will see an increase in online travel courses curated and taught by Africans to Africans globally. These courses will be centered around providing skills training and education/coaching on subject matter travel topics such as conscious travel, value exchange travel, travel financial planning, among others.
6. An increase in African travel creatives who will shape the future of travel for Africans.
Description: African travel creatives are Africans in the creative space such as writers, photographers, videographers, storytellers, explorers among others, who enjoy travel. They are either avid or new travelers who love to document their travel experiences creatively so as to inspire others to travel.
Here’s one example: an African traveler climbing Mount Kilimanjaro not just to experience it, but to document and produce content to inspire through their personal experience. Tayo Aina of Tayo Aina Films leverages his photography and videography skills to document his travels around the continent of Africa. Just Rioba professionally documented her experience and produced high quality content of a group of Kenyan women hiking Mount Kilimanjaro.
What will fuel this: As of today, we already see an increase in African travel influencers creating and producing travel media content of their personal travels and using their personal experiences to inspire others. The continued increase in this trend coupled with the rise of online travel education will lead to a mass production of African creatives in the travel industry. Today, you no longer need a fancy camera and equipment to produce a show — with a smartphone, Instagram, Youtube and other freely available tools, anyone can create content to be shared globally.
7. The rise of original travel media content created, produced and delivered by Africans.
Description: This refers to content such as travel magazines, travel TV shows, documentaries among others, where Africans tell their own stories. These content types will be centered not just on travel but also explore the symbiotic experiences that can be combined with travel such as travel and arts, travel and music, travel and food, among others. Imagine for a second an African exploring destinations, and producing content to share their experience on a larger screen, similar to Anthony Bourdain’s Parts Unknown series.
Though not in the travel space, we’ve recently seen the documentary series on Netflix called Made By Design, created and produced by Titi Ogufere , showcasing African designers pushing the boundaries in the contemporary design scene in Africa. In the travel space, we see creators like Tayo Aina, who leverages his photography and videography skill to not just document his travels but develop a media company, Tayo Aina Films. Another example is professional travel writer Lola Akinmade Åkerström, who writes for National Geographic.
What will fuel this: With an increased desire for equality and justice among the Black race channeled through storytelling, the desire for many Africans globally to rewrite the narrative of Africans to the world and the rise of empowered Africans in the creative industry, we will see more top-notch travel related content produced and delivered by Africans.
8. The rise of privately-owned African travel businesses.
Description: We will see an emergence of African-owned companies, products and services across the travel value chain in the years ahead. These include air and ground transportation, accommodation, travel merchandise, travel lounges etc, competing at global standards.
For example, having more privately-owned African airlines who operate at global standards represented at international airports across key locations globally, will lead to a better travel experience for Africans.
What will fuel this: The rise of personalization due to Artificial Intelligence technologies will catalyze Africans to innovate and develop products and services that can meet the needs of African travelers. Also, the need to develop a more financially stable and empowered African society will force more Africans to create affordable solutions in and out of the travel industry. The rise of the middle class population in Africa will also fuel the need for more solutions that can accommodate the growth of the African population. And as such we will see more airlines, ground transportation, hotels owned by Africans.
9. Travel freedom for Africans.
Description: Ease of travel for Africans is the ability to travel and explore the world without limitations. Today, Africans face many challenges which make travel difficult, such as visa constraints and complex planning processes. As the world moves towards borderless transactions and services, ease of travel will be enabled for the majority.
An improved travel experience for Africans could simply look like not standing in line for over 2 hours after a 13-hour flight. Due to the proliferation of new technology, African passport holders can now be included in and can take advantage of trusted traveler programs including Global Entry, NEXUS, and SENTRI.
What will fuel this: As the world embraces innovative technologies such as Blockchain’s Self-Sovereign Identity (SSI), Ambient Technology & Artificial Intelligence, as their use case becomes more widespread, and as government regulations for these technologies become more standardized, we will see more ease of travel globally, not excluding Africans. The increase in more integrated technologies will make the travel verification process between governments, countries and travelers much easier and seamless. As new technology enables a borderless society with an unbiased identification process, Africans can now bypass the cumbersome process associated with trip planning. In addition, governments of both developed and underdeveloped countries will begin to develop policies, laws and programs that facilitate easy exchange of people across destinations.
10. The restoration of African pride — the honor and dignity of Africans and Africa.
Description: The restoration of African pride is bringing back honor and dignity to Africa and also to Africans.
For example, in the 1960s, Nigerians could travel to the US and UK without a visa and they were treated with utmost respect when they did travel. This is the ultimate goal — to restore dignity back to Africa. This trend means that Africans will no longer need to migrate to other countries en masse, or engage in birth tourism just to seek a more favorable passport to enable them to travel the world without being discriminated against
What will fuel this: All the trends listed above will contribute to an increase in the stature of Africans, thus leading to an increase in African pride. This would make Africans all over the world proud to be African once again.
CountlessMiles (CM), an organization that provides solutions that enable and empower Africans to thrive and flourish without limits. A portion of CM’s profits goes to support CM’s social impact mission by contributing resources to support its social impact partners organizations.To get in touch with her work with CountlessMiles, you can reach out at firstname.lastname@example.org