International travel to Africa is expected to reach 18.6 million this year, thanks to the popularity of destinations like South Africa, Kenya, Nigeria, Mozambique, Cameroon, Mauritius and Tanzania, which account for 70% of international trips to the Sub-Saharan region.

That figure marks a nearly 7% increase compared to 2012, when international arrivals topped out at 16.35 million, reports international market research group Euromonitor.

Analysts attribute the growth over the last five years to increased digital integration and cyber connectivity; alliances between hotels, airlines and car rental companies; social media; meta-search engines; the short-term vacation rental market; luxury travel; and niche tourism.

“Many countries are moving away from only promoting Africa as a traditional safari destination, exploring other niche categories such as beach and medical tourism.

“The travel and tourism market continues to introduce products that suit different types of travellers, accounting for strong growth in major cities across Sub-Saharan Africa,” said Euromonitor research analyst Christy Tawii.

Safaris aside, visitors are also travelling to the region to visit South African vineyards, catch a wave off the coast and bask on its beaches.

By 2022, Euromonitor predicts that growth in international arrivals to Sub-Saharan Africa will reach 25 million, thanks to competitive rates, aggressive marketing campaigns and improved air connectivity connecting the region with major markets overseas.

This will be especially true for South Africa and Nigeria. Meanwhile, an earlier report by Euromonitor also forecast the fastest-growing cities in Africa for 2017, with Kenya leading the charge.

Here are the cities to watch out for:

1. Kisumu, Kenya

2. Eldoret, Kenya

3. Nairobi, Kenya

4. Mombasa, Kenya

5. Nakuru, Kenya

6. Tangier, Morocco

7. Agadir, Morocco

8. Abuja, Nigeria

9. Yaounde, Cameroon

10. Mansoura, Egypt

– AFP Relaxnews