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The sky is the limit as Africa taps into space tourism

12 November 2010 15:26

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 World Travel Market (WTM) Global Trends Report 2010.

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."

Travel insurance specialists, World First Travel Insurance, don't provide cover for space travel yet, but Managing Partner Martin Rothwell thinks it's something they will look at in the future, he said: "There is no disputing the advancements in travel over the past few years. It's clear that the future holds many opportunities for new and exciting types of holiday and I am sure that before long we will be looking to add a new travel insurance policy to our range of products. So as well as offering a wide range of cover including pre existing medical conditions travel insurance, winter sports travel insurance, cheap annual travel insurance and single trip travel insurance, I'm sure we will eventually offer people a space travel policy!"