The sky is the limit as Africa taps into space tourism


South Africa is poised to become a leader in space and astrology tourism, predicts the WTM Global Trends Report 2010 today (Monday 8 November).

Astronomy and space tourism are gaining momentum in Africa, particularly South Africa, as recent investment paves the way for the continent to position itself as a leader in space science, reveals the report, in association with Euromonitor International.

Africa has proved resilient to the global economic crisis and is one of the few tourism economies to show growth, with arrivals growing by 9.4% in 2010. South Africa in particular has emerged as the strongest destination for tourism after it hosted the FIFA World Cup this summer. South Africa’s arrivals are three times larger than any other African country.

A number of hotel and other accommodation providers are already capitalising on the opportunity astronomy presents with telescopes in bedrooms and night safaris and tours on offer.

On a more sophisticated level, South Africa is gearing up to play a major role in space exploration with the National Space Agency Act entering law last year. The destination is already home to the Southern African Large Telescope while the MeerKAT telescope facility is under construction, paving the way for further space exploration and tourism.

World Travel Market Chairman Fiona Jeffery said: “It would be fantastic to see South Africa and the African continent as a whole continuing on the success of the World Cup. There has already been significant investment in space exploration and with such clear skies it would be a small step for tourism businesses to tap into the opportunities.”

Euromonitor International Head of Global Travel and Tourism Research Caroline Bremner said: “South Africa’s investment in astronomy has already boosted the economy and created jobs with hundreds of space scientists and tourists queuing up to enjoy the facilities.”