Anyone who has spent time in Africa knows that the continent has an endless amount of experiences to offer every type of traveler, but despite the stunning beaches, cosmopolitan cities, unmatched dining and thriving arts scene, conversations around travel to Africa in the mainstream is still wildly focused on safaris and group trips.
Immersive, experience-driven travel to Africa is nothing new, as black travelers, many in the Travel Noire community, have shared stories of going off the beaten path in Morocco, exploring art in Dakar and falling in love with Lagos, but now a desire to engage in “Experience” tourism has the potential to change how the masses experience Africa.
“56 percent of travelers are millennials. … They’re looking for real, authentic experiences,” Airbnb’s head of policy Chris Lehane told Voice of America, noting how the platform has helped travelers across the world find lodgings and alternative experience opportunities in regions not commonly frequented by tourists. “And the fact that you’re having that type of acceleration with millennials suggests and strongly indicates that Africa, and not just South Africa – Kenya, Morocco, Zimbabwe, Botswana Somalia, other parts of the continent – are going to become huge destination markets.”
By relying on locals to help guide an experience, travelers can contribute directly to the community and avoid “poverty tourism,” which has been largely problematic for the community it claims to serve. According to Lehane, Airbnb plans on investing $1 million to build community-led tourism projects in lower-income neighborhoods starting in Cape Town, a small amount to help visitors experience Africa from the inside out.