When we talk about tourists in South Africa, we tend to think of uppish Northern Europeans and loud Americans. We might also think of large groups of Japanese or Chinese tourists exhibiting Sony’s technological frontier. In a recent working paper, María Santana-Gallego and I argue that this view is only half-true: African tourists are an important component of South African tourism statistics and that this is a potentially large export market for South African travel services (see figure, showing Africans as proportion of total tourist arrivals).
We use a standard panel gravity equation of 175 origin/destination countries between 1995 and 2008, 37 of which are African, to identify the factors that drive African-inbound (arrivals to Africa from other continents) and within-African tourism (arrivals from and to an African country). The determinants of African-inbound and within-African tourism are fundamentally not all that different from global tourism flows; repeat tourism, income, distance, land area and the standard dummy variables (such as language, border and colonial effects) not only drives global or OECD tourism, but also tourism within Africa.
Given the proximity of other African countries to South Africa, and the rapid rise in African incomes, don’t be surprised if, over the next few years, other tourism stereotypes emerge: the African businessman, African shopper or African happy-snapper on safari in Kruger.