Sports tourism, which is defined as trips taken specifically to watch or participate in sport events, has a huge potential to boost Africa’s tourism revenue.
Grossing more than $600 billion a year, the global sports tourism sector is identified as a potential driver of the continent’s tourism growth figures especially after the hosting of the 2010 Soccer World Cup in South Africa.
Although African Sports Safaris are not as popular as game viewing expeditions, the continent is quickly earning a reputation as a sports tourism destination thanks to its world-class sports venues and golfing estates.
South Africa is undoubtedly one of the top destinations for African sports safaris. The country boasts top-class venues, including more than 500 world-class golf courses, which enable it to host international sports events such as the FIFA World Cup, the Rugby World Cup and the African Football Cup.
Golf and water sports such game fishing, wind surfing, scuba diving, snorkelling and canoe racing are some of the most popular sporting activities among visitors to South Africa, Morocco, Kenya and many other African countries.
Sun City, Cape Town and Garden Route are South Africa’s best golfing destination. On the other hand, Limpopo is ideal for fly fishing, cycling, mountain biking, car racing as well as golfing.
Morocco’s prevailing winds, fabulous beaches and rugged terrain make it an ideal destination for parachute jumps, biking and horse riding among other sports.
The coast of Kenya is ideal for sports such as scuba diving, snorkelling, water-surfing, deep sea fishing and dhow sailing. The country is also emerging as a potential destination for golfers especially with the recent investors’ plans to build golf cities in Nairobi, Mombasa, Kisumu, Thika, Eldoret and other strategic locations across the county.
But even with the spirited effort by tour operators to market Africa as a destination for sports safaris, it will take powerful marketing campaigns for the sector to make a significant contribution to the local economy.
And because such expensive campaigns may not yield immediate results, many operators seeking to improve their bottom line are finding it more sensible to continue marketing the traditional game viewing safaris. A Tanzania wildlife safari, for example, will most certainly attract clients faster than a golfing tour in a nondescript village half an hour outside Arusha.
Tanzania, one of the few African countries that allow hunting expeditions, offers some of the best game drives in the continent. Ngorongoro Conservation Area, Ruaha, Selous, Tarangire and Serengeti national parks are some of the most popular destinations for Tanzania wildlife safari.
Wild animals that can be spotted within the Tanzania national parks and reserves include wildebeest, elephant, leopard, lion, cheetah, hippos, zebra, buffalo, gazelle, warthog and crocodiles among other species.