Sylva Nze Ifedigbo.
Africa is a home of great beauty. Now that sounds like a cliché right but then, I make bold to repeat, Africa is indeed a home of great beauty. This is perhaps the only thing about this continent which the west has acknowledged for ages- the fact that we are the most un-tempered-with natural territory under the sun and a haven for tourists. Jena Lee Executive Director of Blood Water Mission writing on her Experience in Africa observed that “There was something romantic about Africa” revealing further that When Western explorers documented their first steps and journeys onto the shores of the African continent in the late 1800s, Americans read with wonder and intrigue about an untouched place of people, animals and land that exceeded the imagination.
Most of the endorsement of our tourism potential by the west though comes in somewhat derogatory terms as this beauty and purity accentuated by breath taking sights and sounds have been somehow equated to primitiveness by many writers. Hence it is not strange to find many who habour such myopic impressions that Africa was all about roaming animals, poor unclad tribesmen and jeep safaris.
Western ideological idiosyncrasies aside, we have here some of the most beautiful sights in the world which cannot be overlooked. With the rest of the world rapidly going grey and artificiality defining and threatening human existence, Africa presents a breath of fresh air. From Cape to Cairo and everything in-between Africa is rich in natural endowments. Our land mass is massive, second only to Asia and houses fifty four nations. It is home to the historical River Nile, the longest river in the world, of great lakes like Lake Victoria and Tangayinyika, as well as huge deserts and mountains. Furthermore, our animal population is among the most varied in the world and most of the geography channels owe their footages to the dense rain forests of the continent.
Egypt is home to the last surviving member of the Seven Wonders of the World, the Great Pyramid of Giza. There are in fact three main pyramids in Giza; the Great Pyramid of Khufu (or Cheops), The Pyramid of Kafhre and the smaller Pyramid of Menkaura. Each Pyramid is a tomb to a different King of Egypt. In front of the pyramids lies the Sphinx, or Abu al-Hol in Arabic, “Father of Terror”. Carved out of a single block of stone, this enormous cat-like sculpture has mesmerized millions of visitors. Giza’s three pyramids and the Sphinx were thought to have been constructed in the fourth dynasty of Egypt’s Old Kingdom.
The Victoria Falls are one of the greatest natural wonders of the world. The Victoria Falls lie in between Zambia and Zimbabwe in Southern Africa. The Falls are just over 1 mile wide (1.7 km) and 355 feet (108 m) high. The best time to view the Victoria Falls is during the rainy season from March to May.
The Masai Mara National Reserve is Kenya’s premier wildlife park. It was established in 1961 to protect wildlife from hunters. The Masai Mara is the reason many visitors come to Kenya and its beauty and abundant wildlife. The Masai Mara located in southwestern Kenya on the border of Tanzania. The reserve is situated in the Rift Valley with Tanzania’s Serengeti Plains running along its southern end.
The world’s tallest free standing mountain is also in Africa. Also the highest point in Africa Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania stands at 19,340 feet (5896m) and is a favourite place for adventure in mountain climbing. Also in Tanzania is what has been described as perhaps the most well-known safari park in the world and one place in Africa where nature and wildlife are still preserved before humans ever reached, the Serengeti National Park . Serengeti is a place for Gods, where nature and the amazing landscapes make you feel really glad that you are alive.
In Namibia is what’s regarded as the second most spectacular canyons in the world (after the Grand Canyon of America). The Fish River Canyon in Namibia is indeed a sight of astonishing grandeur. The spectacular canyon features a 160km ravine which is up to 27km wide and 550 metres in some places. Several animal species are present in the canyon, including wild horses, mountain zebra and Kudu. The canyon has a prolific birdlife with over 60 bird species found there.
Furthermore, UNESCO’s The World Heritage List includes 962 properties forming part of the cultural and natural heritage which the World Heritage Committee considers as having outstanding universal value. 129 of those are in Africa and Nigeria house two of these, the Sukur Cultural Landscape and the Osun-Oshogbo Sacred Grove
The above is to mention but a few. With such endowments, it is not strange that tourism is very important to this continent as a major contributor to the GDP of most of our countries. Tourism has a direct positive impact on our economies and, by extension, on the lives of our people.
Africa’s tourism grew by nearly 10 percent in 2005, outpacing the world average of 5.5 percent, according to a report by the UNWTO. Mozambique and Kenya were the fastest-growing tourist destinations that year. In 2006 the UNWTO reported continued tourism growth of 10.6 percent, with a forecast of 4 percent growth in 2007. Despite the economic downturn and the decline in international tourism arrivals worldwide in 2009, the UNWTO Tourism Barometer declared Africa was a “robust performer with Sub Saharan destinations doing particularly well”. While worldwide tourism arrivals fell by 4.3%, arrivals to Africa increased by 3% in 2009.
In 2009, Africa was the only region to show growth in tourism arrivals. Figures from the UNWTO for 2010 show a continued growth trend as the region showed an 8.8% increase in arrivals. Africa received 63 million tourists in 2010. The 2010 FIFA World Cup proved very successful as South Africa’s arrivals increased by 15% in that year with more than 309,000 visitors arriving to attend the sporting events. In 2010 also, Egypt received 14 million visitors. Tourism was also the second largest revenue source for the country, generating US$12.5 billion that year. UNWTO reports that emerging countries especially in Africa are driving much of the boost as the growth rate of tourist arrivals is exceeding that of developed countries. Emerging economies are also leading the recovery in terms of increased expenditures abroad.
These feats notwithstanding, Africa’s tourism potentials are still grossly under exploited. Indeed the appreciation of these endowments by us Africans and the promotion of same can be a lot better. This is one of the drives behind Coca-Cola’s campaign to highlight A billion often overlooked reasons why the World is and ought to be paying more attention to Africa. These sights are here, no one is going to take them away from us. We can get more out of them. We can get more of the rest of the world to come and see it.
It is heartwarming to read recently that the President of Benin Republic who is also the Chairman of the African Union Boni Yayi rather than jet off to some grandiose resort in some corner of the world spent his vacation at the prestigious Obudu Mountain Resort in Cross River State Nigeria and testified afterwards that it was a world class facility. The only way we can go from here, is up.
Enjoy your week and continue to share your great African stories at @CocaCola_NG