Africans are Willing to Spend 27% More Without Visa Restrictions

The Henley Passport Index (HPI) is a global ranking of countries according to the travel freedom for their citizens. It started in 2006 as Henley & Partners Visa Restrictions Index (HVRI) and was modified and renamed in January 2018.

Spending among African travellers could increase by 27% over the next year if they were able to move freely within the continent, according to a new survey report by Sabre Corporation.

Sabre Corporation, a leading technology provider to the global travel industry, The African Traveller Report 2019: Pain Points, Preferences And Aspirations Of The African Traveller survey found that of those who had travelled in Africa within the past two years.

More than 5,000 people across Kenya, Nigeria, and South Africa were asked whether they had traveled by plane in the past 24 months, to which 26% said they had – a 2% increase in Sabre’s similar 2016 study.

“It is encouraging to see that a greater number of people have been able to access air travel over the past three years,” said Dino Gelmetti, vice president sales, Middle East and Africa. 

“However, our research shows that there is still a long way to go to make travel affordable and accessible.  The majority of our respondents’ barriers to travel are within an airline’s control, and investing in the latest technology can significantly improve the whole flight experience – from booking to the day of travel,” he explains.

Travel visa-free:  most respondents would take 2-3 trips per year compared with the 1-2 they currently take.

Those polled said that if pain points were eliminated and they could travel more freely, the countries top of their lists to visit are South Africa, Ghana, Ethiopia, Seychelles, Madagascar, Mauritius, Kenya, and Botswana. And, in an environment in which airlines across Africa are grappling with slow growth, this study sheds light on significant opportunities for the travel industry to improve the travel experience and capitalize on new revenue opportunities.

Africans are Willing to Spend 27% More Without Visa Restrictions

“Overcoming the cost constraint is a major challenge, but all indications are that if airlines were able to reduce flight costs by optimising operations, routes and pricing, far more African people would take advantage of the opportunity to travel by air,” Gelmetti said.


Airlines in Africa are currently grappling with slow growth. This study sheds light on notable opportunities for the travel industry across the continent. This will improve the traveller experience and allow for African companies to capitalise on the benefits of increased tourism.

“Digital technologies offer the key to slashing operational costs, improving efficiencies and understanding customer pain points. By using data harnessing technologies to make sense of customer data and using these insights to offer passengers the right product in the right context at the right time, travel operators immediately improve their chances of increasing sales,” he says.

Africans are Willing to Spend 27% More Without Visa Restrictions

Airlines can reduce the barriers of travel by simplifying the check-in processes, adopting multi-channel sales and check-in processes that allow travellers to engage in the channels they are most comfortable with. For some, the best option would be the traditional channels, such as having travel agents and check-in staff ready to assist. 

For others, digital channels such as websites and mobile apps will be more comfortable for travellers to utilise. This can streamline ancillary services sales, allowing travellers to quickly and easily order and pay for personalised add-ons to enhance their travel experience.