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The rapidly booming Indian travel market is driving destinations worldwide to ramp up their marketing efforts toward the increasingly lucrative group - including those in Africa for which India is already a crucial source market.

Destinations worldwide are courting Indian travelers, including countries throughout Africa. Authorities in several African nations are ramping up their efforts to attract visitors from the rapidly growing market. 

Kenyan officials in particular view Indian travelers as an important segment in their efforts to make a full recovery from the pandemic. Kenya attracted the most Indian travelers among all African nations during the first eight months of 2023.

“Besides the historic and cultural ties, India is one of the largest source markets for Kenya,” said John Chirchir, CEO of the Kenya Tourism Board. Chirchir described India as a largely untapped market, from which Kenya is looking to attract half-a-million visitor arrivals annually.

The Kenya Tourism Board recently hosted the Outbound Tour Operators Association of India, a gathering that attracted more than 150 Indian tour operators.

Chirchir expressed optimism that conferences like that will help. “Having experienced Kenya, the travel agents will be able to scale up their volumes for Kenya rapidly,” he said. 

“Indian tour operators have experienced our products, our sustainable tourism and interacted with our communities and this will allow them to reflect this to the end consumer in a much better manner than Kenya Tourism Board could ever have done.”

Irshad Dadan, director and group CEO of One Above, is bullish on Kenya’s strategy to lure more Indian visitors, even projecting a 25% jump in Indian tourist arrivals next year. He also believes Kenya will see an increase in Indians coming to the country for meetings and on business.

“The demand for Kenya in India is fantastic due to the flights, visas are easy to get,” Dadan said. “The market is moving towards luxury and experiential travel and Kenya is definitely fit for that.”

Kenya’s efforts to attract more Indian visitors received a boost when Indian carrier IndiGo launched service from Mumbai to Nairobi in August.

South Africa, Rwanda and Uganda Boost Efforts

Kenya isn’t alone among African countries in increasing its focus on India. Rwanda Development Board CEO Francis Gatare touched on his country’s efforts to lure more Indian visitors at the World Travel and Tourism Council in November. RwandAir currently offers two direct weekly flights between Kigali and Mumbai and Rwanda provides visa on arrival to Indian nationals arriving at Kigali International Airport. 

And the South African government is working to relaunch direct flights between Mumbai and Johannesburg, which were halted during the pandemic. In the meantime, South African Tourism inked a deal with Ethiopian Airlines to offer Indian travelers flights to South Africa

And South Africa’s Minister of Tourism Patricia De Lilli is calling for the easing or elimination of visa requirements for Indian – as well as Chinese – nationals to help boost tourism. 

Destinations across Africa are looking to tap into the large numbers of Indian families with roots on the continent.

“Indians are multigenerational travelers,” said Smita Srivastava, an India-based representative of tour company Chalo Africa. “Some travel to reconnect with heritage being that their parents were born in Africa, especially in Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda and South Africa.”

Tanzania and Uganda are also heavily targeting Indian travelers. Tanzanian President Samia Suluhi Hassan visited India in October to help strengthen ties between the two countries. Uganda Airlines launched service to Mumbai that month, becoming the fourth major East African carrier to do so. India has emerged as the third-largest source market for Uganda, behind the U.S. and Kenya. 

“We’ve discovered that Indians love experiential travel where they immerse themselves in cultural experiences and wildlife,” said Bradford Ochieng, the deputy CEO of the Uganda Tourism Board. 

 “Consequently, we have engaged Indian influencers and the media to market our destination. We also have social media pages where we have targeted content about Uganda to Indian travelers.” 

Seychelles’ tourism board has been collaborating with travel agents to promote tailored packages. “The Indian traveler heavily relies on travel agents to plan a vacation and that’s why we reserve a significant portion of our spending for traditional mediums,” said an official from the Seychelles Tourism Board. 

Complex and time-consuming visa and immigration procedures is another factor affecting Indian travelers. So African countries are increasingly setting up strategies to ensure a seamless entry, including Kenya. Kenyan President William Ruto recently announced his country would lift all visa requirements for incoming visitors starting in January. 


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Tags: africa, africa tourism, india, india outbound

Photo credit: More destinations across Africa are targeting Indian visitors Klaus Vedfelt / Getty Images

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