According to ForwardKeys, the latest figures reveal a 13.3% increase in arrivals in 2017, compared to the equivalent period last year.
This , it says, was driven by a net increase of 82 routes and strong growth from the Americas, up 17.8%, Europe, up 12.7%, Africa, up 12.5% and Asia-Pacific, up 16.4%.
Egypt and Tunisia are leading the recovery after the health and security concerns of 2014-16 have begun to fadd, it says.
Among the top ten destinations, visitor numbers to Morocco and Tunisia were further boosted by visa exemptions for Chinese travellers.
The figures were released today at the AviaDev and AHIF conferences in Kigali, Rwanda.
Jon Howell, managing director of AviaDev, says: “I am very pleased to see such strong growth in air travel to Africa. However, it is notable that consumer demand and airline investment has been greater in travel to African countries from outside the continent than it is between African countries."
Looking in to the future, bookings for travel to Africa for the rest of 2017 (from September 21stto the end of the year) are 15.2% ahead of last year, thanks to early bookings from the Americas, ahead 20.6%, and Europe, ahead 16.4%.
Asia-Pacific is also sustaining its growth, ahead 16.1%.
The relatively lower number for growth in bookings from the Middle East is unduly pessimistic because the Islamic New Year fell during the equivalent period last year, artificially lifting the benchmark.
In Africa as a whole, airlines’ scheduled capacity is up, according to Innovata data, led by international long-haul, up 9%. Intra-African international capacity is up 4% and domestic capacity up 5%.
Among the top ten African airports, ranked by scheduled capacity from September 21stto the end of the year, nine airports show growth for domestic capacity and seven for international.
Durban suffered the biggest decrease in international capacity, down 19%, mainly due to Ethiopian Airlines ceasing routes from Addis Ababa, while strengthening its capacity to Cape Town.
Focusing specifically on the East African Community (EAC), destinations have seen strong growth of 12.2% this year, particularly from European visitors, up 16.3%. Arrivals from the Americas and Asia Pacific grew less than those travelling within Africa.
The outlook for travel from the Middle East and Asia Pacific is deceptively weak and is due to the timing of Islamic New Year and a later mid-Autumn festival in India.
Those events fell within the equivalent period last year, boosting the bookings benchmark so this year’s outlook appears worse by comparison for that reason rather than any inherent weakness in the market.
Dar Es Salaam’s was the only destination showing a decline in long-haul capacity, due to Oman Air dropping its route from Muscat.
"As an international executive who has travelled around Africa for many years, I am longing for the day when it is easier to fly directly between African cities, as is possible on other continents. I am sure I’m not alone in that desire and I’m equally sure, if the strong growth continues, it will happen eventually.”