Photo-sharing social media apps such as Instagram are starting a revolution in travel and tourism in Africa.
Sites such as Tastemakers Africa, Everyday Africa and Visiter L’Afrique are using social media to show new possibilities for African, diaspora and international travelers.
American Cherae Robinson worked at the World Bank before she founded Tastemakers Africa. She couldn’t find anything in travel industry advertisements that reflected her experience: the vibrant cities, great food, conversations with artists on rooftop haunts. She wanted other people to have those experiences too. So, through social media, she has built a community with tens of thousands of followers and a network of “tastemakers” in multiple countries.
Now, she facilitates travel to Nigeria, Senegal, South Africa, Morocco and Zanzibar.
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Tourism in Africa is big business — and set to get bigger. The World Travel & Tourism Council estimates that by 2028, tourism will contribute $275 billion to countries’ economies in Africa, up from less than $150 billion in 2011.
Another tourism entrepreneur, Diane Audrey Ngako, wanted to see more attention on Francophone Africa. Originally from Cameroon, Ngako built Visiter L’Afrique, and more than 100,000 fans are following her Instagram site.
“The tourism boards and ministries are really nonexistent in Francophone parts of Africa,” she said in an interview with Quartz. “Today it’s mainly people that create accounts to promote their country without any help.”
Accounts on Instagram are useful for showcasing rich images and short videos. Both founders said the site has allowed them to connect with potential customers in new ways. Tastemakers Africa grew its fan base rapidly because of its vibrant photos. Robinson said this connection was key: It allows people — from Africa and abroad — to explore their curiosity about African countries.
“Social media has done more for African tourism than anything else,” Robinson said in an interview with Quartz.