With the rise of the middle classes, tourism in Africa is no longer only the prerogative of foreigners. Moroccans go on holiday to Morocco, the Dakaris escape on weekends to go to small hotels or camps on the Petite Côte, while the South Africans of the big cities emigrate each December, in the middle of southern summer, on the Cape and Durban beaches, or in the lodges and animal reserves of Mpumalanga and Kwazulu-Natal.
Morocco has become the most touristic country in Africa, with South Africa, since the collapse of Tunisia and Egypt, affected by attacks and the ups and downs of their 2011 revolutions. With a peculiarity: in the kingdom of Chérifien, no less than 30% of the nights counted in the hotels of the country are bought by Moroccans, according to statistics of the Tourist Office.
Increasingly, national residents - and not just Moroccan emigrants back to Europe - are taking advantage of the diversity of their offer. Their preferences are not the same as those of foreigners. Rather than Marrakech, Essaouira or Agadir, they frequent mainly Meknes and Fez, two cities of the interior with a rich architectural heritage, as well as the seaside town of Tetouan, which overlooks the Mediterranean.
A third of the revenue generated by the local market in Senegal
In Senegal, international tourism has been declining for many years, a decrease aggravated by the introduction in 2013 of a visa to 50 euros. The latter was suppressed in 2015, and arrivals climbed from 20% in the same year, reaching 1,6 million visitors according to the Ministry of Tourism. The domestic market is now clearly targeted by the country's operators, as it represents one of the pillars of tourism, contributing to 36% of the 2015 revenue generated by the sector, according to ministry figures.
"We need to develop a new form of tourism promotion because we have a middle class that represents a significant segment of demand," notes Bocar Ly, the director of the Society for the Development and Promotion of Coasts and Areas of Interest tourism of Senegal (Sapco). In 2016, the company launched the first Local Tourism Week in Saly, the seaside resort of La Petite Côte, in the presence of singer Youssou Ndour, a former Minister of Tourism between 2012 and 2013.
Senegal, rethinking its strategy, solicits its artists to promote it: the Daara J group has realized in 2016, with the Senegalese Tourist Promotion Agency, a licked and intelligent clip that shows the best sides of the country. The only problem is that the price of overnight stays is out of reach for Senegalese stock exchanges. It is exorbitant in Dakar with an average invoice of 42 000 CFA francs (64 euros), and a request that brings 31% on the two star hotels and 42% three stars, against only 6% for the five stars. The capital remains the most frequented by foreign tourists as local (41%) before the Petite Côte (35%), the region of Saint-Louis (7%) and the Casamance (4%).
Three-quarters of tourists in South Africa
In South Africa, the main destination on the continent with Morocco, the two countries with approximately 10 million visitors per year, the bulk of foreign tourists come from Great Britain, Germany, the United States and China . But three-quarters of tourists come from the domestic market, according to the Ministry of Tourism. The segment, dominated by white households that are still the most affluent, is targeted by the authorities, who want to democratize it.
Only problem: 48% of South Africans do not have the means to travel, says the Ministry of Tourism. In addition, a dominant culture among black South Africans is that apart from visits to friends or relatives, there is "no reason to travel".
However, the government wants to persuade the less fortunate households to spend even one weekend a year in a tourist site in order to support job creation. A national strategy for the development of the internal market over the period 2012-2020 has been drawn up, aiming to create 225 000 jobs and to increase 54% in 2009 to 60% in 2020 the share of tourist revenues generated by the internal market.
Another corollary phenomenon of the rise of the African middle classes is the increasing interest of Africans for their own continent, which, for example, makes Morocco a popular destination for South Africans, who are no longer satisfied with the beaches of Mozambique and Mauritius.