Africa’s travel hot spots: booming African cities

Nigerian Lagos is a ‘beacon’ to tourists as work continues to revive city’s seaside heritage – but Victoria Falls is endangered

An “insane” amount of tourist money is flooding into African cities, according to a report on the continent’s travel hotspots. Far away from the mainstream spotlight of Dakar, Cape Town, Kinshasa and other tourist attractions, a surge in safari-like safaris into the often-overlooked corners of Africa’s largest city has become common practice. The Nigerian capital has become a city “through the haze of the cruise ships and low cost flights”.

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Continentalisation, or migration towards “high-end” destinations such as South Africa, has stretched the reach of the larger tourist markets and driven up the cost of holidays for lower-income citizens. Many have concerns about the long-term health of Africa’s travel industry. However, with populations expected to nearly double from 1.2 billion in 2050 to 2.4 billion in 2050, Africa will play a key role in reaching the desired population growth.

– The Lake Mbongeni (Mbogoro) region of Tanzania is renowned for its natural habitat of biodiversity as well as its animals. But researchers have found that the area could lose around 11% of the 1,000 animal species seen there in the past. Researchers from the University of Twente in the Netherlands in a study found a decline in plant, herbivorous and many bird species, and a less dense wildlife population. The study linked the drought and the loss of forests and wetlands on the lake.

Victoria Falls river valley, Zimbabwe. Photograph: Archangels/Getty Images/iStockphoto

A local citizen’s campaign to save the endangered Victoria Falls natural park could see the £90m redevelopment of the site demolished. As part of a reforestation campaign being run by Parks and Wildlife, Thomas and Co, a Zimbabwean group, has secured enough signatures to form a grassroots, village-level organisation that would then challenge the powers that be at the three national parks that run the river valley. The campaign’s goal is to preserve “our father, our grandfather and our great grandfathers’ place in the history of the world”, said one co-founder.

Victoria Falls national park in Zimbabwe. Photograph: Tom Pilston/Getty Images

The likelihood of fast transit cities emerging across the continent in the years to come has been given some comfort by University of Hong Kong economics professor Jason Lam. Lam says that if existing infrastructure can be maintained, fast travel can be possible with people living close to where they work, although such cities require a change in mindset.

– The Arabian Nights’ tales of the desert at sunset could have been transported to the hazy Mojave in California – thanks to researchers who created a novel shade map to determine how long visitors have had to spend in the desert before making their exit. A haze in the night sky caused “bad vibes”, so much so that men were reluctant to approach women. At the time, there was also a considerable amount of litter littering the desert, suggesting that people discarded waste after dusk. The Desert Spirit and Western Desert Remnant maps were made by a team of researchers from universities and related institutions in California, Singapore and Thailand.

Nnamdi Azikiwe airport in Abuja, Nigeria. Photograph: Akintunde Akinleye/Reuters

A new set of satellite images have revealed that nearly $750m (£530m) has been spent so far on revamping Nigeria’s airport in Abuja, while criticism has continued to flow in the wake of the disastrous inaugural flight for the terminal. Describing the work as a “waste of public funds”, the presidential spokesman added: “With all seriousness, this is a colossal failure. It is something that will haunt the government for years to come.”

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