Photo: paula french/Shutterstock

Why Don't You Visit Africa?

by Richard Stupart Sep 9, 2011
It sucks to be the unpopular kid

THE UN WORLD TOURISM BAROMETER says that Africa came stone last as a popular destination for foreign visitors last year. Putting this into perspective, Europe gets something like ten times as many visitors in a year to a geographic area around the size of both the Sudans and Algeria glued together.

That leaves 52 (depending on your politics) countries worth of African space that adventurous travelers could explore. Yet, for the most part, very few do.

Sure, a fair number of visitors come to South Africa, Morocco and Egypt (yes, you are actually a part of the continent), but comparatively few in global terms go anywhere else. Like Zanzibar. Or Madagascar. Or the Bazaruto archipelago and Timbuktu.

So why is that?

The continent is frequently criticized for corrupt and undemocratic governments, yet places like China, Laos and Cambodia remain darlings of backpackers year after year. Is it because it is seen as an unsafe destination? Then why flock to Mexico, Colombia, and Brazil? If it’s tough going, it’s certainly no tougher than Nepal or India?

So why the double standard? If you haven’t traveled to an African destination besides Egypt, Morocco, or South Africa lately, have you ever considered it?

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