Nigerians head to East Africa for holidays
…as cost of traveling to Europe, USA soars.
Nigerian holidaymakers, hit by a weaker naira which has made travelling to Europe costly, are now looking to cheaper destinations across Africa, to fulfil their holiday dreams.
Most travel agencies and tour operators are recording significantly stepped-up bookings from Nigerians for holiday packages in East Africa, especially young couples.
While Kenya recorded the highest number of Nigerian holidaymakers of over 17,000 in 2016, up from 14,065 arrivals in 2015, Rwanda hosted over 20 Nigerian companies and about 5,000 individuals on corporate functions, and Ethiopian Airlines connected more Nigerians across the globe, than all the African airlines put together.
The closest to Nigeria in West Africa, is Ghana, with 8,391 tourists to Kenya last year, a number that is up from 6,116 of the previous year.
Furthtermore, mature destinations such as Tanzania and Uganda, are also wooing wildlife and beach lovers from Nigeria to the many picturesque offerings across the two countries.
Speaking on the growing popularity of East African destinations, Efetobo Awhana, managing director, Avantgarde Tours, observed that the visa on arrival policy of most East African countries is proving to be a big attraction to Nigerians and that travel agencies are recording more bookings for top destinations in East Africa, such as Kenyan coastal resort towns of Diani and Mombasa, as well as Tanzania’s Arusha, Zanzibar and Kigali, among others.
Awhana further noted that beyond the easy visa, East African destinations are cheaper, compared to Western destinations and even Dubai. “With $50 you can get an East African visa, the flights are relatively cheaper and the holiday packages are also affordable. So, the average Nigerian is looking for ways to save money during this economic downturn and the East African destinations easily come to mind because of their affordability”.
Considering the flights, Ignatius Ijere, another tour operator, said that East African carriers are cheaper than even flights within West Africa, and so, most Nigerians who are running on low budgets, take advantage of the cheap flights to holiday in East Africa.
“It is more expensive to fly Asky from Lome to Liberia and Lagos to Banjul because of the many stopovers. It costs between N130,000 and N160,000 from Lagos, Abuja or Enugu, to any of the East African countries, while you need upwards of N250,000 to visit Dubai or Abu Dhabi and from N300,000 to visit London”, Ijere said.
Besides the cheap flights, Ijere noted that more Nigerians are visiting East Africa for holiday because Dubai, which used to be very easy in terms of visa procurement, is beginning to delay from two days to one month, while visa denials are becoming more frequent because of alleged offences Nigerians committed, especially absconding in Dubai.
“With the current exchange rate, the Dubai visa is no longer cheap at $150. The same is the case with the South African visa, from $100. Yet, Dubai has started delaying and denying Nigerians visas.”
“South Africa would have been an option to Dubai but they are worse because you pay $100 for a three-month visa, which expires soon, and you may not get your passport in two months, and when you get it, it might not come with a visa. So, the East African destinations are gaining ground because of the easy and cheap visa and affordable flights too”, Ijere said.
Considering the continued xenophobia attacks on Nigerians in South Africa, most tour operators in Nigeria are reluctant to sell that country’s holiday tours to Nigerians, as choice of holiday destination is now determined by affordability and safety.
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