It’s an exciting time for tourism on the African continent. Visitor demand has come roaring back after three difficult years. But a more seamless entry process means a number of African destinations are easier to visit in 2023.
African countries are increasingly scrapping or easing the visa requirement process for US, European and other major tourism source markets. New non-stop flight routes are emerging from major US hubs and between African destinations.
A handful of African destinations are also reaching visa lifting agreements with neighbors, which encourages regional tourism and in turn, could help foster more authentic and sustainable tourism experiences for all categories of travelers.
Although airfare may be high this year, you can make the most for your buck and mitigate the impact of your emissions by visiting a couple of visa-free destinations for a longer stay.
Here are nine key African tourism destinations that are now easier to visit in 2023, thanks to either visa removals and/or new flight routes.
Visa-Free For Source Markets
Effective end of January 2023, Malawi no longer requires a visa (which had a hefty fee) from citizens of its major tourism source countries, such as the US, France, Germany and more than a dozen other countries.
With a similar rational to boost tourism and remain competitive, Zambia scrapped visa requirements for visitors from more than 40 countries, including the US.
Inter-regionally, South Africa and Kenya have agreed to lift the visa requirement between their respective countries.
Electronic Visa Platforms
More African destinations are rolling out e-visa platforms to simplify the process and encourage tourists to visit. Remember that you’ll have to meet the requirements to apply online, such as a valid passport for at least six months post-travel, hotel bookings and a return ticket, among other possible asks.
Egypt rolled out its e-visa platform in 2018, but it has added more countries to that list to boost tourism. US citizens can apply online for a one-time $25 visa or a multiple-entry one at $62.
An e-visa platform is available for Kenya as of 2021 (note that visas are no longer issued on arrival). Category 2 online visa is for citizens from the US, UK, EU, Canada, Australia and New Zealand, for example, and will cost you $51. Expect processing to take at least 2 business days. In Category 1 are those who are exempt from a visa to Kenya, such as Ethiopia, Jamaica, Namibia and other African and Caribbean country citizens.
Note that you can also apply for your East Africa visa on this platform, which is a joint tourist visa valid for traveling to and within Kenya, Rwanda and Uganda and costs $101.
Morocco’s e-visa platform launched in July 2022. Note that citizens of the US, Australia, New Zealand, UK, EU and Canada, among others, do not need a visa to travel to Morocco and can stay up to 90 days.
There’s a nifty tool on the e-visa website that lets you figure out whether you need a tourist or other visa. For those who need a visa, requests are processed online within 24 hours if you choose the express visa option, or within 72 hours for a standard visa. The tourist visa once issued will be valid for 180 days from the date of issue, but it allows you to stay in Morocco for up to 30 days at a time.
New or Resuming Flight Routes
There’s an exciting expansion of flight routes from the US or Europe, for example, to African destinations. This is a list of the ones that are most exciting to Tourism Lens, and is not exhaustive.
- EgyptAir will resume flights between New York JFK and Cairo on March 26.
- For frequently updated news on Egypt and help with planning, I highly recommend my colleague’s platform, Egypt Tourism USA.
- Ethiopian Airlines New York JFK to Abidjan, capital of the Ivory Coast — starting on May 29, 2023. This is great news for the Ivory Coast as it prepares to host the Africa Cup of Nations in 2024.
- Atlanta to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia — starting on May 16, 2023, operating four times weekly.
- Addis Ababa to Cape Town, South Africa and to Accra, Ghana. This makes it easier to add more countries on your trip.
- Air France Paris CDG to Nairobi, Kenya, increased frequency to six weekly flights starting June 12, 2023.
- Air France Paris CDG to Dar Es Salam, Tanzania starting June 12, 2023, three times weekly.
- United Airlines Washington DC Dulles (IAD) to Cape Town since November 17, 2022
- Delta Atlanta to Johannesburg and Cape Town four times a week starting December 2, 2022.
Keep an eye on news of additional routes to Africa or resuming flights. Morocco, for example, is planning to add 35 flight routes in 2023, any of which are with European countries. Remember that visa requirements can change—verify the latest requirements on the designated country’s official website when you start planning for your trip.