(Xinhua) -- Beijing-based PR manager Gong
Yile never expected that her parents, both in their
fifties, reacted like little kids when they first
spotted lions on the Serengeti in Tanzania.
The nine-day Tanzanian trip left this
Chinese family with fond memories, making Africa a daily
topic in their household.
“My parents even searched for and
watched the Disney animated movie ‘The Lion
King,’(1994)” she said.
NO LONGER UNREACHABLE
In recent years, African countries
have taken a top spot as popular destinations among
“Africa means ‘The Lion King’ during
childhood and Mount Kilimanjaro during youth. It also
means (the documentary) ‘The Great Migration’ narrated
by David Attenborough...” Gong, 30, wrote in her travel
notes. “For many people, Africa is a remote and
idealistic place, and journeying there is like a
pilgrimage into nature.”
“It is relatively a new travel
destination, and I have long wanted to pay a visit. Our
trip was well-timed. If I do not make the trip this
time, it would be hard to revisit Africa soon.”
There was a 40 percent year-on-year
increase of tourists purchasing travel packages to
Africa via Ctrip, according to statistics by the online
travel agency. The post-80s generation stands as the
main demographic, accounting for 30 percent of the
Egypt, Mauritius, Kenya, Morocco,
Tanzania, Tunisia and Ethiopia are among the most
“Having been to major travel
destinations in Europe, America and Asia, many tourists
are now looking for less visited locations with
novelty,” said Hu Wenyu, head of Ctrip’s Middle East and
There has been a clear trend of
increase among Chinese tourists visiting Africa, Hu
In 2017, about 69,000 Chinese tourists
visited Kenya, allowing China to rank as the fifth
tourist source country. South Africa received 97,000
Chinese tourists during the same year.
Currently, 20 countries and regions in
Africa extend visa-free or arrival visa policies to
Chinese citizens, according to the Foreign Affairs
Ministry’s website of consular services cs.mfa.gov.cn.
More convenient visa facilitation
policies are an important factor for some countries to
attract Chinese travelers.
In 2017, Morocco and Tunisia received
118,000 and 20,000 Chinese tourists respectively, both
attaining a year-on-year increase of over 150 percent.
During the first five months of 2018, over 100,000
Chinese tourists visited Morocco.
The period between July and October
marks the peak season of tourism in Africa, according to
Qiu Feiming, an experienced tour agent with Ctrip. Most
Chinese tourists will go to the eastern and southern
parts of Africa to observe wild animals and feel closer
Qiu added winter marks a peak season
for North Africa. The warm climate along the southern
shores of the Mediterranean, the desert landscape of
Sahara and exotic Arabic charms are appealing to
travelers. Tropical islands in Mauritius and Seychelles
are the top choices for honeymooners.
AN ENRICHING LECTURE ON NATURE
The migration of wild animals is a
major attraction for travelers wanting to visit Africa.
Huang Hongmei and her friends have just returned from a
19-day trip that brought them to Kenya, Tanzania,
Madagascar and Ethiopia.
Reminiscing about the spectacle of
herds of wildebeest crossing the river, Huang described
the experience as “breathtaking.” “I had a heartfelt
sense of awe for the circle of life and death as I
watched the race of life taking place right in front of
me,” she said.
The tourists were deeply impressed by
the local consciousness of environment and wildlife
protection. To them, it was an enriching lecture on
nature and wild animals.
By dusk, the safari vehicle stopped on
the dusty trail of a national park. Gong said the tour
guide then motioned toward a giraffe enjoying its
dinner, with its hair gleaming like gold in the
When the motor was switched off,
everything was silent except for the giraffe’s munching.
“At that moment, even the sound of our breath would
break the serenity,” said Gong.
Contrary to her expectations, Gong
found that sanitary conditions in Tanzania are even
better than that of some markets and restaurants in
Qiu said that the tourism
infrastructure in the southern and eastern parts of
Africa is satisfying, but it is a different story when
it comes to wildland activities. An insufficient supply
of water and electricity happens from time to time.
Tourist attractions in Africa are
actively enhancing their infrastructure to meet the
needs of Chinese tourists. “The performance of safari
vehicles is getting better by the year, for instance,”
According to Hu, price and resources
are the two major factors restraining the number of
Chinese tourists to Africa.
With high costs in tourist
development, the average price for an individual
traveler is higher. And there can be a shortage in
transportation, accommodation and tourist workers during
During peak seasons, tour guides who
can speak Chinese are in high demand. Huang noted four
out of five local tour guides she met were part-timers.
“The one I met in Madagascar was a
local young man who studies Chinese, “ she said. “He has
his own garment business and only works as a tour guide
in peak seasons.”
A tour guide Huang encountered was a
recent graduate from the local Confucius Institute and
did not speak Chinese fluently. “But even someone like
that is in high demand,” she said.
Tour to Africa takes up approximately
12 percent of Ctrip’s business in the Middle East and
Africa, said Hu. “We have a special team in charge of
our business in Africa, and we have been exploring the
potential of the Africa tourism market. Currently, we
are working on cooperative promotion plans with African
Kenya hopes to attract at least
100,000 tourists from China in the following year or
two, said Najib Balala, Cabinet Secretary for Tourism
The Kenya Chinese tourism association
was launched in Nairobi in March 2018 to provide better
services for Chinese tourists, Balala told Xinhua.
An official with the Moroccan Tourism
Ministry said that Morocco is stepping up efforts in
improving their transportation and hotel infrastructure
to raise its tourist capacity, aiming to attract an
annual average of 500,000 Chinese tourists by 2020.
Meanwhile, South Africa took the
opportunity of the 20th anniversary of the
establishment of diplomatic relations with China and the
100th birthday of the late President Nelson
Mandela to promote its tourist products in China.