We all know that planet Earth is in peril

Global warming, plastic pollution, environmental degradation, energy inefficiency, human-animal conflict, safety, security, unemployment, poverty, hunger, viral pandemics – the list is endless. 

On the environmental side, coastal regions, in particular, are undergoing rapid decline. It is estimated that approximately 3 billion people — about half of the world’s population — live within 200 kilometres of a coastline. In Africa, the average population density in coastal areas is about 80 people per square kilometre, twice the world’s average population density. 

As an industry, tourism is ideally positioned to make a difference.

In 2018, tourism generated 10% of the World’s GDP and created 1/10 jobs worldwide. In 2020, the global coronavirus pandemic decimated the tourism industry as countries locked-down to fight the spread of infection. The pandemic caused a 72.9% drop in global tourist arrivals in Africa and resulted in business closures and wide-scale unemployment.

Tourism revenues impact the World across many fronts, including economic growth and development, environmental protection, cultural preservation, peace, and security. And yet, these tourism impacts are barely felt in Africa.

In 2018, the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) reported that the African region received only a 3% share in tourism receipts and a 5% share in worldwide arrivals. And the stats story gets worse. By mid-2022, overseas tourist arrivals in Africa amounted to just 5.1 million; significantly lower than for the same period in 2018, which recorded 57.7 million arrivals by year end.

In the adventure tourism sector, global tourism revenues amounted to $282 billion in 2021. Market statistics for the Africa continent as a whole is estimated at just $112.2 million, which represents a market share of under 0.04%!

So, why is Africa’s tourism recovery performing poorly?

Well, there are several problems that we believe are responsible for Africa’s dismal performance in the potentially lucrative (outdoor) adventure tourism market. Here are a few reasons:

  • Many Africa in-bound tour operators, and especially adventure tourism activity organisers, closed their operations following the plandemic.
  • The $112.2m (Africa) vs $282b (global) adventure tourism stats could be skewed (under estimated) when considering that a Pan-African database of outdoor sport and adventure activities does not exist.
  • Maybe there are not as many outdoor recreation events in Africa compared to other continents (we don’t know that for sure seeing as a central database doesn’t exist but the revenue stats tell the story).
  • Event organisers market in isolation (fear of competition?).
  • Global event marketplaces have few Africa-based events listed and the few that are listed get lost in the clutter (Eventbrite is a prime example).
  • Inbound tourists are concerned about safety and security in many African countries (outdoor events have high safety & security measures in place, so that’s a reputation problem that W4A aims to correct as part of its relaunch plan).
  • Lack of experienced outdoor event organisers (and affordable local training/certification providers?).
  • Mass-participation outdoor events require high pre-launch funding (W4A’s relaunch plan has a way to solve that).
  • Event logistics can be complicated (ditto, W4A is developing outdoor event planning software to simplify the process).

What about market demand? Is it sustainable?

According to the aforementioned stats, the global adventure tourism market has a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 15% and is expected to grow to over $1 trillion by 2030. For Africa, the CAGR is estimated at just over half the global growth percentage (8.3%) from 2022 to 2032. The cited source states; “The current trend of adventurous travellers visiting uncharted territories coupled to a rise in disposable incomes, and affordable travel packages, are anticipated to support market expansion”.

Problem Solving

To solve some of the factors that inhibit tourism growth in Africa (as identified in the bullet lists above), W4A is relaunching. Read our Re-launch Pitch Deck for a brief overview on how we plan to solve these inhibiting factors.

But we don’t want the kind of growth that results in #overtourism. We want sustainable tourism growth. And we have a relaunch business plan to achieve that.

Our first solution, the  EventsInAfrica (EIA) marketplace app, is currently in development. The primary objective of the EIA app is to create a Pan-African database of outdoor events. A portal where Africa-based event organisers can list and market their activities for domestic and international tourists to find, follow, and book to participate in listed events.

Our second solution, a bespoke outdoor event planning software programme will be developed to tie-in with the EIA app. This software will initially be exclusively used by W4A country subsidiaries to plan, fund, launch, manage, and analyse their own events simply, effectively, and profitably. At a later stage, the cloud-based planning software will be opened as a subscription model to enable any Africa-based event organiser to not only plan an event, but to incorporate sustainable development practices into their event.

More importantly, both of the above solutions are aimed at generating revenues, a percentage of which will be channeled to assist in funding pre-event launch costs for new events in Africa.

In conclusion, the African continent is endowed with rich diversity, an abundance of natural beauty, cultural heritage and historical sites, wildlife, safaris, beaches, deserts and so much more. If channelled correctly, and with initiatives to boost domestic tourism in Africa, these assets could provide considerable opportunities for outdoor adventure tourism growth and, above all, solve many of the factors that inhibit tourism growth in Africa.


The original Walk For Africa (walk4africa.org) concept was founded in 2018. Back then, the Founder, South African travel writer, Desmond Langkilde, reached out to his network of tour operators in Africa with a simple question; “Which niche sector of tourism, in your opinion, has the greatest potential for growth, job creation, and protecting your country’s environment?”

The answers to this question were unanimous; outdoor tours in the eco-tourism, responsible tourism, sustainable tourism niche sector. All of these terms mean the same thing; they account for current and future economic, social and environmental impacts, addressing the needs of visitors, the industry, the environment and host communities in a sustainable way.

Initially, the plan was to create a continuous series of multi-day walkathon events that would circumnavigate Africa’s coastline and ocean island states, extending from one country to the next, much like a “pass-the-baton” relay race. For this reason only coastal counties were included, which would result in the World’s longest walking event, covering 40 counties, 40,000 km, and 75 million individual steps.

To enable this plan, the Founder starting a working group by inviting the above respondents to read and submit comments on a Draft Project Proposal by the deadline of 31 January 2020. The working groups’ respective inputs resulted in the Founder registering the Walk For Africa domain, writing a collective Mission Statement, and an operational plan for walkathon events.

During the consultation process, the working group members were invited to serve on Country Steering Committees (CSCs) as either Country Project Managers or CSC Chairpersons. A Country Steering Committee Terms of Reference (ToR) document was drafted by the Founder to guide members in this regard.

The above process resulted in nine CSCs being formed, namely Cameroon, Côte d’Ivoire, Namibia, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Tanzania, Togo, and Tunisia. The remaining CSCs were to be established as and when CSC Chairpersons from the remaining 31 coastal countries came onboard and volunteered to serve on steering committees within their respective countries.

The founding concept, however, proved to be impractical when considering factors such as logistics  and pre-event funding. Instead, it was decided that each country would launch their own walkathons, ranging from single- to multi-day events, and planned to launch during Tourism Month (a global UNWTO theme held annually in September). The W4A project was to be registered as a non-profit organisation (NPO), based in Cape Town, to coordinate all events.

To fund the project, the Founder set up a $5,000 USD crowdfunding plea to register the W4A project as an NPO, to build the website, to Secure Directors & Officers liability insurance for the NPO board, to appoint an accounting/auditing firm for bookkeeping in the 1st year, and to purchase a limited supply of branded merchandise for promotion. 

And then, in mid-March 2020, the coronavirus “pandemic” happened! As we all know, the months of COVID-19 lockdown had a disastrous effect on the global travel and tourism industry. And more so in Africa where operators simply did not have the financial reserves to withstand prolonged revenue losses, resulting in business closures, job losses, and hardship for tourist guides, rural communities, and wildlife, whose livelihoods and survival depend on revenues generated from tourism.

Needless to say, as a result of the “pandemic” lockdown the crowdfunding effort hit a brick wall after raising just $190. By March 30, 2020, a decision was made to postpone the proposed walkathon events to September 2021. 

To keep the project alive, the founder launched the W4A website (without funding) on October 18, 2020, along with social media channels on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn.

To facilitate the 2021 launch, the founder convened a W4A Walkathon pre-launch presentation with CNC Chairs via Zoom on January 13, 2021. The purpose of the online meeting was to explain the step-by-step procedures required to plan, coordinate, and fund walkathon events in their countries.

While CSC Chairs who attended the Zoom presentation session expressed their enthusiasm, none actually took any steps to begin planning an event in their country. In hindsight, the presentation may have been too technical, the procedures too time consuming, or pre-event funding requirements too high for members to implement.

Undeterred by the general apathy, the founder proceeded to plan a multi-day walkathon event in South Africa’s Western Cape province. Starting from Plettenberg Bay and ending in Cape Town, the 826 km route was planned to host 6,750 participants over 27 days. The event aimed to generate R4,1 million ($229k) in revenue with a gross-profit margin of R2.2 million ($123k). In partnership with the event beneficiary, the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA), disbursements were to be allocated as 50% to SPCA, 35% to fund the 2022 event, and 15% to cover admin costs.

After preparing an event Sponsor Pack, the Founder secured a few in-kind sponsor pledges (mostly for participant goody-bags) and a vehicle loan from Mahindra South Africa with fuel to the value of R4,000. At the same time, several event grant applications were made through various funding organisations. In June, 2021, a grant for R30,000 ($1,677) was eventually secured from WESGRO (the Western Cape Tourism, Trade and Investment Promotion Agency), to assist in promoting the event.

With just two months left until the planned event launch in September, and with insufficient time left to raise the R0.5m ($30k) required for up-front expenses, the founder decided to postpone the event to 2022. Fortunately, no deposits were taken from registered participants, so no refunds were necessary. The grant funding and vehicle sponsorship were then utilised to physically recce the route.

On July 28, 2021, the founder undertook a “Walk4HuskyRescue” fundraising walk from Plettenberg Bay to Cape Town accompanied by his rescued dog Jaxx – a Siberian Husky. The 30-day journey was completed on August 30, ’21. On reflection, this recce/fundraising walk proved that a continuous multi-day walkathon along the entire stretch of this route would not be viable due to coastal terrain difficulties among other factors. Parts of this route are, however, suitable for single or two- to three-day walkathon events.

The problems encountered while planning these outdoor events has resulted in the formulation of our relaunch business plan.

Announcing our 2nd Project

Well, this project idea came after we had created Walk For Africa. The plan is to tell Africa’s environmental story by hosting and mentoring African journalism students while walking the 40,000km coastline.

Telling Africa’s Story – One Step At A Time

We will be hosting journalism, film, and visual communications students to join us on this Odyssey to gain practical storytelling/reporting skills and experience.