In This Article Expand or collapse the "in this article" section Tourism

  • Introduction
  • General Overviews
  • Country-specific Studies
  • Tourism and Development
  • Benefits of Tourism
  • History
  • Cultural Tourism
  • Heritage and Tourism
  • Domestic Tourism
  • Roots and Return Tourism
  • Urban Tourism
  • Sex Tourism
  • Tourism Niches
  • Tourists and Tourism in African Imaginaries
  • Africa and Africans in Touristic Imaginaries

African Studies Tourism
Andrew Walsh
  • LAST REVIEWED: 17 August 2023
  • LAST MODIFIED: 28 October 2014
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199846733-0161


Research on tourism in African studies has developed considerably in recent decades, alongside the development of tourism studies more generally. Indeed, most of the scholarly sources cited in this bibliography were published after 1995, indicative of both the newness of this area of study and the very recent expansion of venues for publishing on relevant topics (see Journals). This is not to suggest that tourism in Africa is strictly a phenomenon of the present and recent past. Increasingly, historians have been investigating the colonial roots of particular niches of tourism across the continent, and these and other specialists have been considering the connections between past and present being forged at tourist destinations that double as designated sites of cultural and natural heritage. Given that African studies and tourism studies are both multidisciplinary fields that incorporate a wide range of influences, perspectives, and approaches to topics of shared interest, it is not surprising that the work coming out of the overlap of these fields is so wildly variable. A significant amount of this work promotes, evaluates, or criticizes the oft-noted great potential of the tourist industry to foster sustainable development and environmental conservation across the continent, oftentimes with reference to specific case studies that reveal how such potential is, is not, or might be realized in practice. Meanwhile, many anthropologists, geographers, sociologists, and other social scientists have approached tourism in particular African contexts as a social and political phenomenon involving, most commonly, meetings of international tourists and African hosts, each side bringing their own power positions, motivations, cultural baggage and imaginaries to their mutual engagement. Despite the diversity of influences, perspectives, and approaches that researchers bring to their work on tourism in African studies, there is a tendency for research interests to cluster around certain topic areas that lend themselves to cross-disciplinary reflection. This is especially true of the diversity of work focusing on particular niches of the tourist industry (e.g., community-based tourism, ecotourism, pro-poor tourism, roots tourism, and sex tourism). It is likely that new lines of inquiry concerning tourism in African studies will develop as quickly and divergently as do new niches of the global tourist industry.

General Overviews

There is currently no single source that offers a complete overview of tourism in African studies, nor are there standard reference books to consult. In place of such resources, readers might consult any of a number of reports, review articles, and edited collections in which research on relevant topics is referenced, compiled, and evaluated. Christie, et al. 2013, a report produced for the World Bank, offers an uncritical overview of the state of tourism in Africa. Popovic 1972 offers a similar sort of overview of the tourist industry prior to the boom of the past several decades, focusing specifically on eastern African countries. Chabloz and Raout 2009, Dieke 2013, Rogerson 2007, and Rogerson and Visser 2011 offer reviews of topic areas that serve as introductions to recently published special issues of journals. Dieke 2000 and Saarinen, et al. 2009 are edited collections featuring multiple contributions concerning a broad range of case studies.

  • Chabloz, Nadège, and Julien Raout. “Corps et âmes Conversions touristiques à l’africanité.” Cahiers d’études africaines 49.1–2 (2009): 7–26.

    NNNIntroduction to a special issue of Cahiers d’études africaines entitled “Tourismes: La quête de soi par la pratique des autres”, featuring twenty-four articles (in French and English) focusing on a variety of contexts and topics.

  • Christie, Iain, Eneida Fernandes, Hannah Messerli, and Louise Twining-Ward. Tourism in Africa: Harnessing Tourism for Growth and Improved Livelihoods. Washington, DC: World Bank, 2013.

    NNNA World Bank study that offers a comprehensive but uncritical overview of the state of the tourism industry in Africa as of 2013. Includes case studies on African and non-African countries in which tourism has become an important industry in recent decades.

  • Dieke, Peter U. C., ed. The Political Economy of Tourism Development in Africa. New York: Cognizant Communication Corporation, 2000.

    NNNA twenty-two-chapter volume that includes an introduction and conclusion by the editor as well as contributions offering analyses of a wide range of topics (e.g., tourism policy, tourism training, and tourism and land-tenure) and case studies regarding tourism in selected countries (Ghana, Eritrea, Namibia, Kenya, Botswana, Tanzania, and Zimbabwe).

  • Dieke, Peter U. C. “Tourism in Sub-Saharan Africa: Production–Consumption Nexus.” Current Issues in Tourism 16.7–8 (2013): 623–626.

    DOI: 10.1080/13683500.2013.785478

    NNNEditorial introduction to a special issue of Current Issues in Tourism in which the operations of the tourist industry are considered in terms of supply (or tourism production) and demand (tourism consumption). Articles that follow include case studies from Gabon, Ghana, Rwanda, Tanzania, and other destinations.

  • Popovic, Vojislav. Tourism in Eastern Africa. Munich: Welforum Verlag, 1972.

    NNNProvides a snapshot of the state of the tourist industry in eastern Africa in the late 1960s. Following several introductory chapters that provide a broad overview, subsequent chapters provide well-documented discussions of the tourism in eleven countries: Burundi, Ethiopia, Kenya, Lesotho, Madagascar, Malawi, Rwanda, Somalia, Tanzania, Uganda, and Zambia.

  • Rogerson, Christian M. “Reviewing Africa in the Global Tourism Economy.” Development Southern Africa 24.3 (2007): 361–379.

    DOI: 10.1080/03768350701445350

    NNNLiterature review essay introducing a special issue of the journal Development Southern Africa. Articles that follow in this special issue include case studies from Botswana, Gambia, Namibia, Rwanda, South Africa, and Zimbabwe.

  • Rogerson, Christian M., and Gustav Visser. “African Tourism Geographies: Existing Paths and New Directions.” Tijdschrift voor economische en sociale geografie 102.3 (2011): 251–259.

    DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-9663.2011.00661.x

    NNNAn overview of recent geographical research on tourism in Africa, focusing especially on new and critical approaches to the widely promoted understanding of the tourism industry as an effective engine of sustainable development in Africa.

  • Saarinen, Jarkko, Fritz Becker, Haretsebe Manwa, and Deon Wilson, eds. Sustainable Tourism in Southern Africa: Local Communities and Natural Resources in Transition. Bristol, UK: Channel View, 2009.

    NNNA collection of fifteen chapters that address questions over the tourism industry’s capacity to promote sustainable development in southern African. Includes a comprehensive set of introductory chapters, as well as case studies based on research in Botswana, Namibia, and South Africa.

back to top

Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content on this page. Please subscribe or login.

How to Subscribe

Oxford Bibliographies Online is available by subscription and perpetual access to institutions. For more information or to contact an Oxford Sales Representative click here.